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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Whose Poodle Now?

Barack Obama sees the EU with its commitment to neo-liberalism as an instrument of American foreign policy, and TTIP as the goose that lays the golden egg. He is concerned that Brexit could jeopardise that arrangement, hence his audacious comments.

Leaving will not result in a bonfire of workers’ rights, that’s already happened under Tory governments, with Blair tightening the screw. UK membership has not prevented the enforcement of the most illiberal labour laws in the developed world nor the most savage cuts in social provision for 100 years. Greece learned in a most brutal fashion that the notion that the EU protects workers is a myth.

Blair was crazy Bush’s poodle. Now Cameron is Obama’s poodle. The time is ripe for us to slash the poodle’s leash. It’s not too late for Jeremy Corbyn to face down his right wing blackmailers and oppose the fat cats’ club and join the campaign for a United Socialist States of Europe.

Tony Mulhearn

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Manchester May Day March - starting point

Please note: The Manchester May Day march assembles from 11.30 at All Saints Park on Oxford Road and will move off at 12.00. Click here for full details of the event.

A Campaign Of Seeping Malevolence Against Pensioners

ARMS in the North West believes the claim that IDS resigned on the basis of his opposition to attacks on the disabled is cynical and hypocritical. He pushed the bedroom tax, Universal Credit, ATOS, the persecution of disabled people who were sanctioned when incapable of work. He presided over the increase in suicides among those deprived of benefit.

We particularly note that his letter targets pensioners with the words: 'You are aware that I believe the cuts would have been even fairer to younger families and people of working age if we had been willing to reduce some of the benefits given to better-off pensioners…', another cynical ploy to divide the old from the young.

Such a notion is part of a growing and insidious campaign to attack pensions and related entitlements. As well as ID Smith, Frank Field and assorted journalists have trailed the idea that pensioners are 'privileged'. Hamish McRae of the 'I' declared 'If pensioners get more, then someone has to foot the bill'. Patrick Wintour of the Guardian headlined 'Pensioners now have a bigger share of the wealth than under-45s.' Darling of the establishment Field says 'The so-called triple lock on state pensions is paid for by squeezing the real incomes of working people.'

These people see the banker-induced crisis as a zero-sum game of a single cake of a shrinking size baked by the Tories in which every slice is reduced or increased as long as it stays within the spending cap determined by history's most mendacious government.

Ignored are the £billions in tax dodged by the fat cats who bankroll the Tory party; as is the £350billion of quantitative easing gifted to the banks; the £billions paid out in bankers’ bonuses is a sealed book; the tax cuts to the top 1% is not even mentioned by the sainted Frank Fields or his kindred spirits.

Nor is it mentioned that British pensioners are among the lowest paid in Western Europe. The OECD reported that British workers receive, if private and state pensions are combined, 38% of their wages, this figure would dramatically reduce for workers without a private pension. In contrast the level in Holland and Austria is 90% and in Spain and Italy 80% of average wages.

We believe now is the time for the TUC to join with the National Pensioners Convention to act on its policy of preparing a massive campaign of opposition to these attacks on pensioners and to all austerity. This campaign should initiate mass industrial action to include a 24-hour general strike, a policy adopted by the 2013 TUC, to force this shambles of a government to retreat.

Tony Mulhearn

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

News updates - from the web

ARMS NW Committee member Steve Ion's regular round-up of relevant news items.

Workers warned they face 'nasty surprise' when they retire as they will not qualify for the full rate - here.

300,000 elderly people 'have unmet care needs and are chronically lonely' - here.

Altmann admits savers ‘bewildered’ by pension changes - here.

Bank bailout v Tata bailout – how the costs compare - here.

State pension reforms: ​Millions still clueless about entitlements - here.

Could women be about to land a fairer pension deal now Iain Duncan Smith has gone? - here.

The care visits that STILL last just 15 minutes: two years after councils were told to stop cutting corners, hundreds are offering slots in defiance of government warnings - here.

Health rationing row as NHS hospitals set out rules preventing the elderly from having operations - here.

Spike in deaths 'due to dementia and flu' - here.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Up in ARMs - latest issue

The latest edition of the ARMs newsletter is out now. In this edition:
  • ARMs strategic review
  • State Pension age review
  • Motor insurance discrimination
  • Council funding con trick
  • Newsbrief
  • Local ARMs groups
  • Unique award for Ann Rhodes
  • ARMs contacts
  • New ARMs national secretary
Click here.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Petition to demand on-line voting in industrial action ballots

MPs could be voting on an important amendment to the Trade Union Bill in just a matter of days. They will be deciding whether to allow trade unions to use on-line voting for industrial actions, which is currently banned. The government is acting like it has a huge majority, but in reality its majority is only 12, which means there's a good chance we can make sure this important change to the bill is approved.

On-line voting is a sensible reform to existing trade union law. It would make it easier, cheaper and probably increase turnout in union ballots, making votes more democratic and increase their legitimacy: no wonder the government wants to stop it.

Cameron’s government is handing big business and dodgy employers a golden opportunity to weaken our rights at work and treat workers unfairly. But if we can force the government to accept the Lords amendment on on-line voting, we can help our unions fight back.

Send a message to your MP here.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Manchester May Day Festival 2016

With guest speaker Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary
Click on the flyer to enlarge it

News updates - from the web

Steve Ion's regular round-up of relevant news items.

Unpaid carers can't keep on plugging gaps in the NHS and social care - here.

Elderly hospital patients given eviction warnings - here.

20 million - mainly low-earners - to lose out under pension reform - here.

Having pharmacists in care homes could save the NHS £135 million per year - here.

PM pressured to help women hit by state pension age rises - here.

Cuts preventing councils from implementing Care Act – British Red Cross - here.

Women have barely half the pensions of men, says TUC - here.

Brexit: 400,000 Britons living on the Continent could have state pensions frozen - here.
'Work for longer': major shake-up of state pensions announced - here.

The state pension shakeup that could leave you with nothing at all - here.

Monday, 11 April 2016

New Manchester ARMS Group

The NW Committee is helping with the setting up of a new Manchester Group. The inaugural meeting will be on the 17th June, with guest speaker Chris Baugh, PCS Assistant General Secretary.

Details of times and venue will be published as a post here, and in the schedule of meetings page (link on the right).

Jacquie Hadfield is currently Secretary of the new Greater Manchester ARMS Group.

News updates - from the web

Steve Ion's regular round-up of relevant news items.

Austerity linked to increase in deaths of over-85s, research into Pension Credits finds - here.

The flat-rate pension you probably won't get! Government slammed for botched messages over looming shake-up - here.

Check your pension entitlement - here.

Labour urges new DWP head to act on state pension age - here.

Teachers consider taking industrial action with junior doctors over Government academy plan - here.

Osborne sold low earners a 'pup' when he unveiled new state pension, union claims - here.

NHS spending devolved in Greater Manchester. This is another opportunity for the government to blame someone else rather than increase central budgets (like Regional Devolution of Council Spending) when impossible budgets are unable to deliver regionally - here.