Category Archives: ECONOMY

A strong and resilient economy is crucial for net-zero Britain – and the private sector must be given the confidence to invest in green jobs

4 min read

The government needs to help clear up the confusion, as it is itself yet to define what it means by a green job

The Prime Minister’s welcome 10-point plan heralding a “green industrial revolution” identified the priority areas expected to play a major part in our path to net-zero – but how much thought has since been given to those in the engine room responsible for delivering successes and advances in these areas?

A thriving economy is contingent on the government giving industry the demand signals needed, and the development of “green jobs” is no exception. But what is a green job, and how can progress be measured?

This is the question we have been asking ourselves on the Environmental Audit Committee since November last year, when we launched an inquiry looking at the government’s plans for green jobs.

Some have defined a green job as being within areas of the economy producing goods and services for environmental protection purposes, and others as professions needed to secure a sustainable economy, such as health and care workers. Varying definitions are wide in scope – and arguably all jobs will eventually have to become green.

What is a green job, and how can progress be measured?

The government needs to help clear up the confusion, as it is itself yet to define what it means by a green job. This is despite several announcements on green jobs: 2m green jobs by 2030; £3bn to support 140,000 green jobs through the Treasury’s Plan for Jobs; an £80m Green Recovery Challenge Fund for nature recovery jobs.

Despite the best of intentions, there is a risk the green job tag might be applied to policy announcements without rigorous analysis of the employment opportunities and informed design of the underlying strategy. It will be important, for example, for green jobs in particular sectors to be announced alongside a thorough assessment of the skills and training likely to be required.

Prior to her move to international trade, former energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told our committee that the government will set out its measurements in terms of green jobs progress in the upcoming net-zero strategy. This cannot come soon enough. As has been a regular refrain over the last 18 months, in successive inquiries, the government must give clarity to industry. To recruit people into green jobs, bosses need to be able to assess the expected demand for the skills required and the cost of training or upskilling.

Giving concrete demand signals to the private sector has led to overwhelming success: look at the contracts for difference scheme supporting the growth of offshore wind. Now we are – quite literally – an offshore wind powerhouse.

An added complexity to the green jobs conundrum is the fundamental challenge for environmental issues of securing co-ordination across government. Indeed, the green jobs issue spans six government departments.  Without a single body to co-ordinate delivery, how can the Cabinet Office, let alone parliamentary committees, effectively monitor how the policies are progressing and hold various departments to account?

We will shortly publish our report on green jobs, making clear recommendations as to how to overcome these hurdles. It is vital that we do so if we are to decarbonise our economy and succeed in delivering a workforce fit for net-zero Britain.

This parliamentary term is by far the most important for the environment. We have been promised countless strategies, delayed by the pandemic, but we are now on the eve of chairing COP26, a major climate meeting and the largest international conference ever hosted in the UK, when our environmental credentials will be on display to the world. The scale of admirable ministerial ambitions must be matched by the diligent preparation of practical policy design.


Philip Dunne is the Conservative MP for Ludlow and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.

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IKEA continues to champion climate action by joining COP26 as a Partner

  • IKEA UK & Ireland is announced as a Partner for United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow and will be furnishing some key areas within the COP26 venue
  • The partnership builds on IKEA’s long-standing commitment to take climate action, with Science-Based Targets that support its commitments to become climate positive by 2030* and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050
  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 is a critical moment to inspire and enable everyone – in business, governments and beyond – to take ambitious climate action and deliver real change

IKEA is named as a Partner for the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26. The conference, taking place between 31st October and 12th November, will be an important moment to turn the tide on climate change and is the last, best chance to get it right.

The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday for for the many people. Climate change threatens this, for people today and for generations to come. That’s why IKEA is committed to becoming climate positive by 2030 through reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than the IKEA value chain emits, while growing the IKEA business. IKEA is committed to the Paris Agreement and to contribute to limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Collaboration can help create the large-scale systemic change that is needed to combat the climate crisis. IKEA is determined to be part of that change and COP26 presents a huge opportunity when it comes to addressing the need for partnership and collaboration across industry.

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time and we’re determined to show that it’s good business to be a good business. At IKEA we want to show that healthy and sustainable living can be affordable, attractive and convenient for the many people.

Today, in the UK, our Buy back and Take back services, in-store circular hubs, and online platforms for second-hand products, are already supporting our customers to live more sustainable lifestyles, whilst helping to create the circular economy that we’ll need to transition to net-zero. We’re proud to be a Partner of COP26 and look forward to working closely and collaboratively with the UK Government and other partners to seize this opportunity for ambitious climate action now.”

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma said: “I am delighted to welcome IKEA to the COP26 family as a Partner for the UN climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November. They are showing climate leadership in their field by committing to science based targets including halving their emissions by 2030.

“By working with Glasgow City Council so the furniture from the summit can be used again, IKEA is helping to ensure there is a lasting local legacy from COP26. I look forward to working with IKEA and all our Partners ahead of the summit as we ensure a successful and inclusive COP26.”

Jesper Brodin, Ingka Group CEO, said: We are in the most important decade when it comes to climate change and even if there are challenges ahead, we are optimistic that by working together we can make COP26, UN Climate Change Conference, a success. With bold commitments and actions from companies, governments and society we have it in our hands to ensure a just transition to a net-zero future.”

In the lead up to COP26, Ingka Group, the largest IKEA retailer in 32 countries, is advocating for more ambitious climate action with key partners such as the We Mean Business coalition, the WEF Alliance of CEO climate leaders, and initiatives such as RE100 and EV100. In addition, as a founding member of the Race to Zero Breakthroughs Retail Campaign, Ingka Group wants to share the business case for climate action and help increase the number of global retailers with Science Based Targets (SBTs). With just 5% of global retailers having set SBTs, COP26 is a forum for enabling action and positive change.

As a Partner, IKEA UK & Ireland will be furnishing some key areas within the COP26 venue in Glasgow. After the conference, IKEA UK & Ireland will work closely with Glasgow City Council and the Cabinet Office to ensure the furniture is given a second life and donated to charitable organisations and/or local community projects.

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The Pig Industry Thinks The Cabinet Is Split Over Visas As Mass Cull Continues

5 min read

Grim evidence of the pig cull currently underway on UK farms to cope with labour shortages has been submitted to Priti Patel as Cabinet ministers appear to have been split on whether to grant more visas for abattoir workers.

A dossier of images, including photographs of overcrowded pig sheds, and information about piglets having to be killed by farmers has been handed to the Home Secretary, as well as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary George Eustice by the National Pig Association. 

The industry group say they need 5,000 visas for skilled meat processing workers and butchers to come from abroad to cope with shortages caused by Polish and Romanian workers returning home during the pandemic. Overall there are said to be 10,000 vacancies in the sector.

Rumours of a cabinet split over the situation come amid a number of statements made by ministers in recent days accusing industry of “whingeing” having had it “too easy” with cheap overseas labour, as the country has been hit with supply chain shortages at petrol stations and supermarkets.

The NPA said they had been asked by the government to show various departments what the impact of the labour shortage was having on the ground for the pig industry.

Without relaxing the rules on visas they have said more pigs will have to be killed as it is not cost effective for farmers and meat processors keep animals alive if there is no ability for them to be butchered for meat products. With animals not moving on to abattoirs there is also overcrowding on farms, with piglets and sows most likely to be killed first.

Charlie Dewhirst, policy adviser at the National Pig Association, said: “We don’t want to get into an ideological row, we are where we are. 

“Defra are very sympathetic but for the past 24 hours but I think there’s been a lack of empathy elsewhere. There’s elements of ideology verses logic in this. We’re just asking for a temporary solution. That’s within the Home Office brief and Defra don’t pull the levers, but the Home Office may view it as a slippery slope [on immigration] but they did offer a solution for the poultry sector.

“I’ve seen the pictures from farmers today, some of them are at the tipping point, they have run out of space to house pigs. Touch wood we don’t reach the stage of burning pires.”

The Home Secretary is understood to have doubled down on her stance against relaxing visa rules for the pig industry and the Prime Minister said reaching for the lever of “uncontrolled immigration” was not the answer. However, Environment Secretary Eustice is understood to have fought hard for the sector in recent weeks to get the labour force they need temporarily from overseas. 

Eustice has not called for visas publicly for the pig industry, and said on Monday he did not believe they were part of the solution to remedy labour shortages. Existing routes of the shortage occupation list and skills list should be able to fill vacancies, he said during party conference. 

However, it is understood behind the scenes that Eustice has been understanding and sympathetic about the plight of farmers and processors and wants to take a practical approach when labour shortages emerge. Despite being a Brexiteer, he is said to have a pragmatic attitude regarding overseas labour if it fills an immediate shortage and said today at conference that seasonal workers are likely to be needed every year. 

One government minister said a difference of opinion between him and the Home Office on relaxing immigration rules for specific sectors was known. 

A government source said that the solution to labour shortages for the pig industry could be met through the existing skilled shortage occupation list, and the industry should have made contingency plans for the shortage of butchers, which was a problem looming several months ago.

Suggestions that the skilled route requires a high level of English and is therefore putting people off from applying was also dismissed by the source. 

“They can come under the skilled worker route. They knew this was coming down the track six months ago and said what are we going to do and they need to focus on training up British people and for the jobs to be renumerated properly. The answer cannot be more immigration. 

“It’s being said everyone has to have a high level of English to come here, they don’t. They don’t need to be Shakespeare or have the ability to write a thesis on butchery. They need an equivalent of a G at GCSE.”

The National Pig Association said up to 150,000 pigs are under threat of being killed prematurely unless more staff arrive from overseas immediately.

They believe a decision on this from the Home Office may still be “in the balance” and were asked to sent information to the government departments and have sought a joint meeting with immigration minister Kevin Foster to the NFU. The NPA have said the impact on farmers who have to kill animals they have reared on their own land and without the facilities of an abbotoir can also be a difficult process for them to go through. 

Earlier this year Eustice and Alistair Jack, the Scotland Secretary, pushed for the government to increase the annual 30,000 quota for temporary work permmits on offer for foreign fruit and vegetable pickers, according to The Times. Both of the ministers briefs are at the sharp end of conversations around solving labour shortages and industry bodies make regular appeals to them for their support. 

Boris Johnson said earlier this week that businesses had been able to “mainline low cost migration for a long time” and his focus was on moving to a high wage economy. One minister told the Financial Times that businesses had had it too easy with “cheap foreign labour”.

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We need to deliver real substance on ‘levelling up’ or it will become a meaningless sound bite


3 min read

In the midst of party conference season, the country is facing issues over the cost of living, with rising food and gas prices as a result of a shortage of HGV drivers, and increasing global demand, which is having a huge impact on families across Britain.

Prior to and during the pandemic, the answer to most issues of this nature was “levelling up” or building back better; but what does this actually mean? When you take away the soundbites and the speeches, we’re still asking questions as to what this will look like.

Heading to Manchester for my first in-person Conference since being elected in 2019, I believe we’re now at a crossroads. With real world implications facing millions, a sound bite and a catchy policy title is no longer sufficient. The promise of milk and honey down the road doesn’t help people now, so we face a choice of sticking on the current course where the destination is uncertain, or starting to put some meat on the bones of our polices to level-up and explain what the impact will be.

Levelling up on paper is a brilliant idea, allowing areas and regions of the UK that have been forgotten and left behind, – following the collapse of some industries – to catch-up. Putting investment into these areas without an algorithm that means yet more money going into London is an idea that resonates strongly in towns and cities from Manchester to Cornwall.

For my part, levelling up isn’t a shiny new building (although that’s still nice to have), it’s education, skills and training

But levelling up in one region differs drastically from another and can often have a wide variation even within the same region. Its greatest strength at the moment is also its greatest weakness, in that, because we’re still questioning what levelling up actually is, everyone has their own view on what it should be.

For my part, levelling up isn’t a shiny new building (although that’s still nice to have), it’s education, skills and training. It’s social mobility and improving opportunities and life chances for all by the end of this parliament. Whilst it may have been delayed due to the pandemic, this has to be our mission and if we can’t point to health inequalities narrowing, better qualifications, higher literacy rates and better jobs – then we haven’t levelled up at all.

Whilst levelling up means all things to all people, it unfortunately also means that it stands for nothing and if there is one thing that we should be taking away from Conference, it’s a clear idea of what this should achieve. The Levelling Up Fund will help but this is only part of the solution.

More emphasis on FE and the skills agenda is hugely welcome and a paradigm shift away from talking only about schools and universities. But we need to be looking at Level 2 qualifications just as much as we do Level 3 and higher, with a clear focus on what we’re going to do for the nine million people who can’t or struggle to read. And we need to focus on early years education – the building block for a child’s future success.  

When we can choose a policy, choose an idea, choose a sound bite, we really must now choose the impact we want to see, otherwise we risk these communities falling further behind. 

Christian Wakeford is Conservative MP for Bury South 

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UK set to face winter of discontent without urgent action to tackle supply chain crisis

4 min read

For businesses to be able to survive they are going to need to trade their way out of this perfect storm of challenges that now face them.

Time is running out to avoid a winter of discontent after years of Conservative complacency, to protect families and businesses from the energy prices crunch and manage the supply chain mayhem that is having a damaging ripple effect across the country. 

Having been warned repeatedly about the huge, looming shortage of HGV drivers, Ministers failed to act and we have been left with a fuel crisis, shortages on our shelves, and higher food costs. 

According to the latest ONS data, in September almost one in five businesses were either not able to get the materials, goods or services they needed from within the UK, or changed suppliers or found alternative solutions to do so.

For many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors, the golden quarter between October and New Year’s Day is their most lucrative time, with some relying on this period for up to 40 per cent of their total yearly revenues. Now businesses are warning that with this period’s revenues set to be hit, that many businesses may not survive the winter; hitting jobs and livelihoods across the country.

The recruitment and retention crisis in the HGV sector can only be solved by driving up conditions

For these businesses, this year’s golden quarter has assumed even more importance, following extremely difficult trading conditions and reduced demand in Christmas 2020. This too came after the government was warned by SAGE in September that a circuit breaker was needed to control the virus, with a delay to act having greater social and economic consequences later.

We cannot afford for the same mistakes to be made again and again. That’s why over recent months Labour has called for action of sufficient scale to urgently address the HGV driver shortfall, including a taskforce to address the issues being faced including improving terms and conditions for drivers, and referring the issue of adding HGV drivers to the Shortage Occupation List to the Migration Advisory Committee to provide advice to government to help address the crisis in the short-term.

Yet rather than being able to focus on how to maximise their trading, the government’s self-inflicted supply chain crisis – which is markedly worse than other countries are seeing – is forcing businesses contending with shortages in critical areas to work out how to survive, let alone thrive.

There has been a recruitment and retention crisis in the HGV sector for years, with apprenticeship starts down 49 per cent since 2015. This can only be solved by driving up conditions in the sector, increasing the attractiveness of the profession including for young people and women, encouraging those who have left the profession to re-join and helping to set up apprenticeships.

The recent U-turn that the government has made in saying in principle they would approve 5,000 visas for drivers is an acknowledgement of the crisis that they have created, but this is neither a long-term answer nor a credible short-term response. They are being far too slow to act and have still done nothing to actually approve these visas, and both the British Retail Consortium and the British Chamber of Commerce have warned that this number will be insufficient to solve disruption this winter.

Many of our hospitality and retail businesses are relying on a successful final quarter to rebuild their battered balance sheets and begin to pay off some of the debts that they have accrued over the last 18 months as now rent payments become due, furlough is withdrawn, and costs of materials and energy rise. 

The survival of many quite literally depends on a successful end to 2021. Recent ONS figures on business deaths have shown that there have been over 100,000 in the first two quarters of 2021. The number of closures in Quarter 2 2021 is the highest second quarter figure since the start of the series in 2017.

For businesses to be able to cope they are going to need to trade their way out of this perfect storm of challenges that now face them. A failure to plan for the needs of sectors across the economy, and to heed the warnings from business about how we needed to prepare for our recovery is now hitting industry and jobs at a time when restrictions are being lifted and support is being withdrawn. For the government’s willful intransigence and appalling complacency to now be resulting in barriers to trade is unforgiveable. 


Seema Malhotra is the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston.

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Tory Faithful Gush Over Rishi Sunak’s Ode To “Fiscal Responsibility”

Rishi Sunak delivered his speech to Conservative party conference in Manchester today and focused on fiscal discipline (Alamy)

4 min read

“What’s not to like about Rishi Sunak? He’s great,” one Conservative activist enthusiastically said as they left the Chancellor’s first in-person speech at party conference.

It was a recurring theme among the Tory faithful as they praised the man in Number 11 for an address to members that was light on policy but strong on fiscal discipline and responsibility for the nation’s economy.

A number of those in attendance told PoliticsHome they approved of his commitment to returning them to the party of low taxation amid unease over a raft of recent spending and a planned hike in National Insurance to pay for a new social care plan.

“I think there’s a lot of concern around the party that we’re losing that tag of being the party of low taxation,” one member said.

“We’re already on message now as the party of ‘lower taxation’, rather than absolutely low taxation, and there’s some concern about that.”

But he said he was pleased Sunak had “set his stall out that he is the Chancellor that’s going to not allow spending or the debt to get out of control”.

Early on in his speech to a packed auditorium in Manchester this lunchtime, with people queuing down the conference centre trying to get in, the Cabinet minister clearly set out his stall on a restrained approach to spending.

“Pragmatism, fiscal responsibility, a belief in work, and an unshakeable optimism about the future,” Sunak said. 

“This is who I am. This is what I stand for. This is what it will take. And we will do whatever it takes.”

Sunak praised his predecessors in the Treasury for “their 10 years of sound Conservative management of our economy” and sought to justify recent controversial tax rises.

“They believed in fiscal responsibility, I believe in fiscal responsibility, and everyone in this hall does too,” he continued. 

“And whilst I know tax rises are unpopular, some will even say un-Conservative. I’ll tell you what IS un-Conservative:  Unfunded pledges, reckless borrowing, and soaring debt.”

A member of the Young Conservatives was also full of praised for Sunak. “He was excellent,” they gushed. “He’s incredibly eloquent and very passionate and clearly believes in what he’s what he says he’s doing.

“It was a strong conservative rhetoric, he wants to show he will get the job done right in his way, in the traditional Tory way.”

Another party member enjoyed the speech and although it was “light on the initiatives”, it was positive and encouraging.

Members also seemed sympathetic to the National Insurance rise and potential for other taxes to go up to pay for the pandemic spending, a distinctly un-Tory move. 

“I think we all recognise the situation the country’s in now, so we need to deal with the current situation,” one activist told PoliticsHome.

“But yes, I think it’s also really important for the Conservatives – who have a reputation for being the party of low taxes – that going forward in the future we do return to that environment, but we do need to get the situation fixed first.”

They added: “But I said to my friend who I sat next to at the end, you know, what’s not to like about Rishi Sunak? He’s great.”

Sunak has also won praise from his own MPs, the former health minister Stephen Hammond telling a PoliticsHome fringe event this morning he believed he was the “most impressive Chancellor we’ve had for 25 years”.

Criticising some Cabinet ministers for being “fiscally incontinent” whose every answer is “to spend”, Hammond said has not comfortable with that as a “good Conservative”.

He said Sunak’s emotional intelligence is “extraordinary”. MP Saqib Bhatti, who was also on the panel, agreed with Hammond’s assessment. 

“He’s, very aware of the context of things. Rishi will try and get us back to reducing taxes as soon as he possibly can,” Bhatti said.

Last night at a drinks reception hosted by the backbench 1922 committee, Sunak delivered a speech in which the biggest cheer was when he told colleagues: “For the record, I’m also a low-tax Conservative.”

But Sunak has stopped short of explicitly ruling out further tax rises. “There can be no prosperous future unless it is built on the foundation of strong public finances,” he said in his Conference address. 

“I have to be blunt with you, our recovery comes with a cost. Our national debt is almost 100% of GDP.

“So we need to fix our public finances, because strong public finances don’t happen by accident.

“Yes, I want tax cuts, but in order to do that our public finances must be put back on a sustainable footing.”

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Five years on, 22,000 workers in Britain are at work on Hinkley Point C

Credit: EDF

Stuart Crooks, Managing Director of Hinkley Point C

From new jobs to investment in British businesses, the benefits of Hinkley Point C are clear to see.

Last week was another significant milestone for the Hinkley Point C project. We marked five years since the final contracts for the site were signed on 29 September 2016. It’s been an incredible five years, and I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made on construction, as well as the fantastic team and supply chain that’s making it possible.

Hinkley Point C is essential in the fight against climate change and for Britain’s energy security. It is delivering on its promise of boosting British jobs, skills, and industry right across the country. Five years after getting the go-ahead, the number of people working on HPC has reached 22,000.

That figure includes 6,300 currently on site, compared to the 1,500 we had at the height of the pandemic last year. Undoubtedly Covid-19 has challenged the project and its suppliers, and I am proud of the enormous efforts made to keep the site safe and moving ahead. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we can now create more jobs as we step up construction and manufacturing for the next phase of the project.

One of the real successes of the site is the breadth of companies involved in construction from across the UK. 3,600 British companies have won contracts on the project. This includes more than 400 businesses in the north of England where spending has already topped £1.2 billion. From Assystem in Blackburn, to Darchem on Teesside, thousands of British businesses have played their role in building the first new nuclear power station in a generation that will help Britain achieve Net Zero by providing reliable, low carbon electricity to meet 7% of the country’s needs. By the end of the project, £18 billion will have been spent with British businesses.

Hinkley Point C and its suppliers are using factory construction and innovation to increase quality and productivity. We’ve already seen big gains between the construction of the first unit and unit two. The skills of these workers, apprentices, and businesses must not be lost, and they are ready to replicate the fantastic benefits delivered at Hinkley Point C with the near identical design for Sizewell C in Suffolk. 

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Labour Is Axeing London Weighting For Staff Not Working In Office Three Days A Week

4 min read

Labour is stripping staff working in the capital of their London salary weighting unless they go back into the office three days a week – a move unions have described as a “heavy handed threat”.

The announcement, sent via email to hundreds of employees just before leader Keir Starmer’s first party conference, has been criticised by Unite the Union who are directing staff to challenge the party if the additional pay is taken away without their consent.

An email sent from Labour’s ‘People and Talent Team’ to staff on 22 September, with the subject Return to Office Working, read: “For those colleagues who work in London, Parliament or the London/South East regional offices you need to bear in mind that eligibility for London Weighting depends on working for at least 3 days of the working week (or the pro-rated equivalent for part time colleagues) in a London office.

“If your working pattern doesn’t include this arrangement then London Weighting will be removed.”

Party staff have faced a tumultuous few months following general secretary Dave Evans’ announcement – first reported in The Guardian – that Labour was going to have to shed up to a third of its workforce by axing 90 jobs, and undergo a restructure due to a dire financial situation following significant legal payouts relating to anti-Semitism allegations. Compulsory redundancies were avoided when a voluntary scheme saw 80 people take a financial offer.

But for those continuing to work for the party in London, the news they will have their salary weighting removed unless they work from the office for three days a week has been described as a “punch to the guts”.

A Unite spokesperson said: “Unite have made it clear to the party this is heavy handed and an unnecessary tactic as an employer. They should be looking to encourage staff back to the office, not threatening them.

“We are advising our members to contact their reps and raise individual grievances for unlawful deductions of wages should they find their London weighting payment has been stopped without their prior agreement.”

Upset Labour employees believe it is not possible to automatically remove the weighting, as it is a change to the terms and conditions of a contract.

However, it is understood that the additional money, which is given to staff to support the higher cost of living in London and travel costs was always conditional on people attending work in the capital in person. The email said there had been consultation with trade unions but some staff said it read like a “fait accompli”.

On the weighting being stripped for people who will work from home, the email said Labour has “consulted the trade unions over these plans and we will continue to engage with them”.

The email also said that the party’s top priority was ensuring everyone is safe and the important work of the party is delivered to a high standard.

Party members are incensed by the email, and have said it was a particular kick in the teeth considering Evans then used his recent party conference speech to thank staff for their “dedication and hard work, that hasn’t faltered for a second”.

Eyebrows were raised when Evans claimed he was committed to winning elections “ward by ward, street by street, voter by voter”, considering there will be fewer staff left to try and achieve that.

Despite being appointed by Keir Starmer in May 2020, and endorsed by the party’s ruling body the National Executive Committee, his position as General Secretary was only confirmed at party conference in Brighton after a delegates’ vote. 

It passed 59% to 41% and followed considerable upset among members following the suspension of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who still hasn’t had the whip restored in Parliament so he sits as a Labour MP.

A Labour staffer said: “I wasn’t the only one who felt sick and angry listening to Evans’ hypocritical rant at conference as he tried to cling to his job, boasting about things that might actually be possible if he wasn’t axing so many staff from HQ and the regions.

“After everything we’ve been through, people who have decided to stay are now being told their pay could be cut. What a punch to the guts.”

Labour has said they will listen to staff concerns, and will keep their position under review and continue to respond to developments for as long as the pandemic continues.

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Author of influential Govt review into UK construction labour receives CIOB President’s Award

Mark Farmer has been presented with the CIOB President’s Award for 2020/21. The award is given to someone within the last Presidential year that has worked as a champion for one of the Presidential themes, a true ambassador for CIOB.

CEO and founding director of consultancy Cast, with over 30 years of experience in construction and real estate, Mark Farmer has become a recognised expert on a variety of industry and policy-related issues. He authored the Farmer Review, an influential 2016 independent government review of the UK’s construction labour model, entitled ‘Modernise or Die’. 

Upon receiving the award, Mark said: 

“It’s not often that I’m lost for words, but this evening is one of those occasions. It means a lot in terms of being recognised, but it means even more because it’s CIOB. For me, what the Institution is doing in terms of pushing the agenda around quality and modernisation is so important. How change happens in our industry is through people, and everything I’ve seen this evening showcases how we are modernising, not dying. It’s absolutely gratifying to see so much excellence on display this evening.” 

In 2019, Mark was appointed as the Government’s champion for modern methods of construction in housebuilding. It is this focus on quality at every stage – the core theme of Past President Mark Beard’s term – that Mark Farmer has been awarded for his efforts. 

His other roles include being a member of the Construction Innovation Hub Industry Board, the Construction Leadership Council Senior Advisors group, a board member for Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, national co-chair of Constructing Excellence, while being a trustee of the MOBIE educational charity. Mark is also an honorary professor at The University of Salford’s School of Built Environment and holds honorary doctorates from the University College of Estate Management and the University of Wolverhampton. 

Mark Beard FCIOB, former President of CIOB 2020/21, said: 

“I am delighted to award Mark Farmer the CIOB President’s Award. Mark has done more than anyone else to introduce new ways of working into our industry, with a relentless focus on promoting modern methods of construction, with all its benefits for our industry’s profile, productivity, long-term profitability and overall product quality. I am proud to be able to acknowledge his work in driving real long-term change in our industry and lifting quality standards.”

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Six decades on, Coca-Cola’s Sidcup site is leading the way on sustainability

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ Sidcup site is celebrating its 60th anniversary

This week the first of our 500ml bottles made from 100% recycled plastic have come off the line at our Sidcup factory. This is just the start of our green journey as strive to become Net Zero by 2040 – and Sidcup is at the heart of our sustainbility plans

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of visiting our team at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners in Sidcup to honour the site’s 60th anniversary. It’s always fantastic to visit our sites, but after such a challenging 18 months, it was especially rewarding to come together with colleagues here and celebrate such an incredible milestone.

Our local MP James Brokenshire was sadly unable to attend our celebrations due to his current health issues, but we’re proud that he has been a champion of our Sidcup factory for many years. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to be able to welcome him back to the site very soon.

Having been part of the local business landscape for six decades we have seen generations of local families join our team during that time. The people and the communities we work with play a big part in the success of the Coca-Cola brand and the Sidcup site remains a vital part of our operations in Great Britain – with a 350 strong workforce and a further 3,855 jobs estimated to be created indirectly by our presence.

The site produces some of the nation’s best-loved brands, including Coca-Cola original taste, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Fanta, Dr Pepper, Lilt, Sprite, Schweppes and Capri-Sun, and is the only site in GB to produce 150ml and 250ml cans.

We’re marking the 60th anniversary by investing a further £28million in Sidcup. The funds will be used to install a new state-of-the-art high-speed canning line – set to open in June 2022 – which will produce up to 2,000 cans per minute, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of innovation within our business.

This latest investment also underscores our ongoing commitment to the site and to the local area, with the new line set to open up a further 19 new job roles and bring further benefits to the local economy.

Crucially, the investment we’re making in Sidcup isn’t just about increasing our manufacturing capacity, it is also representing an important point in our sustainability journey, helping us to achieve the goals set out in our This is Forward action plan.

We’ve already made good progress in making the site more sustainable in recent years, reducing its carbon footprint by 26% since 2010, using 100% renewable energy to power our operations, and ensuring that we send zero waste to landfill. The site’s Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) has significantly increased efficiencies across the supply chain, saving 3,687 tonnes of CO2 per year and 10,817 road miles by HGV trucks.

Our investment will accelerate these carbon savings even further, helping us in our mission to become net zero by 2040.

The Sidcup site has also spearheaded other important sustainability projects over the past twelve months. We recently announced the transition to 100% recycled plastic in our 500ml bottles with the first bottles coming off our line at Sidcup this week. It was also the first site to produce our shrink to board packs earlier this year, which saw plastic shrink wrap being replaced with 100% recyclable cardboard packaging. This transition saves almost 1,000 tonnes of plastic per year from the Sidcup site. We’re working to transition our multipacks to board at all other GB sites by the end of 2021.

We’ve also committed to making other packaging as sustainable as possible. Through light weighting our cans, they now weigh 22% less than two years ago. The lightness of aluminium packaging helps to save resources during filling, transportation and storage, all of which reduces the carbon impact and helps us to progress towards out net zero goal.

This is just the start for our Sidcup factory and I very much look forward to continuing this journey with our people and the local community over the coming years.



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