Thursday, 8 July 2010

TUC's Own Goal

Good to see that the semi-official UNISON Active blog has come out in opposition to David Cameron's invite to address TUC Congress.

The decision was taken at a meeting of General Council when no UNISON members were in attendance due to our National Delegate Conference happening at the same time, according to UNISON Active. If true it's a disgraceful act by the General Council and we should get some sort of apology from the TUC to UNISON for that.

It is important to talk to your opponents and if the General Council want to meet Cameron it makes sense for them to do so. But an invitation to address any annual conference is a mark of respect, a mark of approval. Only a month before what's likely to be the most savage and ill-timed Spending Review statement in our history, Cameron will deserve no applause from the TUC.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

TUC General Council asked to think again

Read an excellent article by my friend Jon Rogers on the madness that is the invitation for David Cameron to address the TUC Congress in September. There's still time to reconsider and on Saturday, South West TUC asked the TUC General Council to do just that by passing this emergency motion.

"The South West Region TUC deplores the recent decision of the TUC General Council to invite David Cameron to address TUC Congress 2010, and asks the General Council, in the urgent interests of trade union unity against this Government's austerity measures, to reverse this invitation."

I call on the General Council and in particular the nine members of UNISON on that body to heed the call. Inviting Cameron to address us has no upside that I can see but plenty of downside.

Public Sector Redundancy Payments

News comes from the Guardian about a spiteful bit of work by the Government to unilaterally reduce the amount of redundancy pay, if (when) they are made redundant.

The Civil Service scheme is generous, even compared to the rest of the public sector, but the government's not even attempted to negotiate over this, just sent the unions a letter that in Francis Maude's own words is non-negotiable. Frankly that's disgusting behaviour from this government.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Tax Havens

Here's my speech on Motion 2 at the National Labour Link Forum. The excellent motion from Eastern Region passed unanimously and commits the Labour Link to push for more information sharing and tax harmonisation to stop the rich getting away without paying their fair share.

Vice-Chair, Forum, Andy Dowland, National Labour Link Committee pleased to express the National Committee’s full support of this motion and thanking the Eastern Region for submitting it.

It is said that “Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilised society”. Multinational corporations reap the benefits of our civilised society. We educate their future employees, provide healthcare to them when they are sick, build infrastructure that they can use and have established a rule of law to protect their assets. But some corporations do not wish to pay the price to sustain that society.

To give just one example: Over the last two years, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation reported an operating loss of 270 million US Dollars, but by moving money here, money there, claiming rebates where they could and paying taxes only when it was absolutely necessary, they turned that loss into a 2 billion dollar profit.
I don’t think David Cameron’s going to bother changing that cosy arrangement.

Now it’s not just multinationals that can play this game – While it might be difficult to tell where News Corporation are based, our football clubs are clearly based out of one town or city. Not really. Tottenham aren’t based in London, the company’s are based in the Bahamas, Rangers aren’t based in Glasgow, their home is Jersey. Our host city’s own team Leeds United. Possibly based in the Cayman Islands but no-one’s quite sure, least of all their Chairman, who had to tell a court that he didn’t have the foggiest idea who owns the club.

14 members of the Premier League not paying their fair share of tax in the country were they do all their business. Leaving it to their fans and the rest of us to pay for the civilised society that they benefit from.

Do the Tax Havens benefit? No, they get into the position of being dependent on a few rich men. When the Belize authorities investigated Lord Ashcroft’s bank for alleged money-laundering, they halted the case for fear that he might withdraw from Belize and wreck their economy. The likes of Lord Ashcroft don’t want tax havens like Belize to develop economically because then their power would be ended.

As the motion says a multilateral approach is needed. The last Labour Government made some steps in that direction. Now we must shame the Coalition into continuing that work.

More information

More transparency

More tax paid by the rich so the poor don’t have to subsidise them.

Please support this motion.