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“TECHNOLOGY SOVEREIGNTY” SOLIDARITY CALLS FOR ACTION

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During the pandemic, it became increasingly obvious that a country needs to be able to provide its population with essential supplies using its own domestic capacities. Our country must not be dependent on other countries for key needs.

All states or federations of states should be able to provide or produce in their own countries the infrastructures, services, and products, e.g. medicines, needed for society and the economy and for carrying out their own public tasks and must have the appropriate technologies and sufficient research capacities for innovative solutions.

That’s why people are talking about “technology sovereignty” or ‘TechSov’. But what is it?

For us, it means the ability of a state or a federation of states to provide the technologies it deems critical for its welfare, competitiveness, and ability to act and to be able to develop these or source them from other economic areas without one-sided structural dependency.

We believe the UK should preserve options by developing and maintaining its own capabilities and avoiding one-sided dependencies. We also believe that the UK government should be able to block foreign takeovers of UK businesses or impose strict conditions where there are national security or public interest considerations.

At present, a number of key defence companies have been bought by overseas concerns or are the subject of takeover bids. In addition supermarkets like Morrisons and Sainsbury’s face foreign takeovers with huge potential effects on UK suppliers and workers.

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented: “I believe that the UK State should hold golden shares in companies which are strategically important to our national interest. This should be easier now that we are not part of the EU. A golden share is a type of share that gives its shareholder veto power over changes to the company’s charter. One golden share controls at least 51% of voting rights. This would enable the UK government to exercise some control over ownership of a company taking account of our national and strategic interests. Both the UK and Brazil have used them in the past. This should be accompanied by stricter rules on the financing of takeovers and the powers of the State to pause and investigate them. The outcome of the TechSov debate is vital to our countries future.”

Foreign takeover threat to key UK companies

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Cobham a US-owned firm is trying to buy Ultra Electronics which produces vital technology for the RAF. They are offering £2.5 billion. That’s £35 a share, more than 40% higher than the company’s all-time record share price. Dorset-based Cobham, was itself bought by the US private equity firm Advent in a £4bn deal in 2020.Why should we care about this? We should care because ‘Taking Back Control’ doesn’t mean much if key parts of our industry are controlled by foreigners. Foreign ownership of British companies will mean that research departments and production jobs will increasingly relocate overseas. And any assurances or promises are given by these overseas bidders are far from guaranteed.

Since Advent took over Cobham, large parts of the company have been sold off, including its Aero Connectivity arm (bought for $965 million by American rival TransDigm) and Mission Systems, bought for $2.83 billion by Eaton Corporation, which operates out of Ohio.Labour’s shadow business minister, Chi Onwurah, said ministers “should be doing far more than making weak and vague noises to protect [companies such as Ultra].

”Serious questions remain about potential threats to national security, the business model of the new owners, and future governance and operational freedoms,” she said.“The Conservatives have repeatedly failed to protect British businesses from takeovers that might compromise our national security and economic interests. Labour would introduce a robust takeover regime to support and grow our world-class industries.”

Unions too are voicing their concerns. Unite the Union has called for an end to “meaningless government statements” and to act “…to protect UK strategic assets, protecting jobs, skills and our national security.” Last year the Commons defence committee published a submission from Unite on “sovereign capability” calling on the government to generate a list of technologies that need to be secured to give Britain freedom of action without the intervention of other countries.

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity commented: “I welcome the lead taken by Unite in speaking out in the national interest. We cannot be reliant on the whims and policies of foreign governments and companies. We must aim for economic and technology sovereignty and not just think about political sovereignty if we are truly to take back control. I welcome the announcement by the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng of an inquiry into the proposed takeover of Ultra Electronics by Advent. I hope that the takeover will be blocked. It’s just a tragedy that action was not taken earlier as we have already lost key industrial companies.”

Picture: Ultra Electronics Business in the Knave’s Beech Business Park at LoudwaterJonathan Billinger/ Ultra Electronics https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Ultra_Electronics_-_geograph.org.uk_-_754776.jpg

PRO-BREXIT FIRE UNION OFFICIAL UNFAIRLY SACKED

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Pro-Breixt fire union official unfairly sacked, tribunal finds

Paul Embery has won a claim for unfair dismissal against the Fire Brigades Union – FBU.

He was sacked in relation to a speech he gave in a personal capacity (not as an FBU representative) and in his own private time to a pro-Brexit rally outside parliament in 2019.
Norwich Employment Tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed after a “witch hunt” with a pre-determined outcome.

The tribunal heard there had been regular disagreements between Mr. Embery and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack over the issue of Brexit. Mr. Embery was warned of reprisals and at one point accused of siding with the ‘far right‘.

The conflict appeared to come to a head as Mr. Embery planned to attend the Leave Means Leave rally in Parliament Square.

Before the rally, the tribunal heard Mr. Embery was told by FBU President Ian Murray that he should not attend as a speaker and that to do so could breach the union’s policy against Brexit, which passed in 2016.

Mr. Murray was also said to have suggested it could contravene a statement prohibiting FBU officials from campaigning with political opponents during the referendum campaign.

Mr. Embery believed Mr. Murray was wrong, and that the policy had lapsed once the referendum was held, the tribunal was told.

The activist was introduced at the rally as an organiser of Trade Unions Against the European Union and used a speech to describe a battle to defend the principle of democracy, after a majority voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

Mr. Embery said in the speech that the “message to the leaders of my movement is, if you want to stay relevant, then it’s about time you put yourself on the side of the people over the establishment and big business, and you better do that damn quickly“.

This is a great victory – on a personal level – for Paul Embery. It’s also a great victory for democracy and the right of ordinary workers & trade unionists to openly speak their minds. Whatever union policy is members and officials should be able to publicly disagree as long as they make it clear that it is their personal view and that they are not speaking on behalf of the union.

Hard work should pay

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Here at Solidarity, we believe that people who work hard should be valued and paid accordingly.

Yet, sadly, that’s often not the case. In work poverty is a real problem. It’s not helped by many public workers in the NHS, Councils, etc being given poor wage rises. Zero-hour contracts and minimum wage jobs in the private sector are also to blame. There are so many factors that prevent workers from earning a decent living and giving them the respect that they deserve.

Now the situation may get worse. 

Union leaders are warning that workers’ pay will suffer after the Bank of England predicted a surge in inflation to the highest level for a decade.

According to the bank’s latest economic forecasts, inflation, currently running at 2.5 percent, will rise to 4 percent at the end of the year as the British economy recovers from the pandemic.

This would be double the bank’s inflation target and the highest level since the end of 2011.

TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The report from the Bank of England shows what unions, NHS staff, key workers, and the public have warned – the government is cutting the real-terms pay of millions of workers.

Lots of workers will find that prices are rising faster than their pay, especially those working in the public sector and other key workers who kept us going through the pandemic – like care workers, refuse collectors, and public health staff.

Keyworker pay is the acid test for the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘build back fairer.’ Every key worker deserves a decent standard of living for their family. But too often, their hard work does not pay. We owe them better.

Government nationalises steel company

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More than 600 steel-making jobs at Sheffield Forgemasters have been secured following the decision to nationalise the company. The takeover by the Ministry of Defence also secures the supply chain for high-quality steel for the next generation of Britain’s defence investment programmes.

The government stated that Forgemasters is the only available British manufacturer with the skills and capability to produce large scale high-integrity castings and forgings from specialist steels in an integrated facility to the highest standards required for these programmes. It will invest around £400 million in the company over the next decade.

The company specialises in forged and cast steel components for the defence, engineering, nuclear, offshore, petrochemical, and steel processing industries worldwide. Forgemasters will continue to operate in areas outside of defence.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of steel union Community, said: “We know with the right framework of support our industry has a bright future at the core of a low carbon economy, so we are pleased to see some much-needed investment going into Sheffield Forgemasters to provide long-term security.

We see this move as a recognition of the importance of the steel industry to our country’s economic future. The pandemic has shown us the danger of relying on fragile overseas supply chains, so we are pleased to see a viable future secured for Sheffield Forgemasters.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of manufacturing union Unite, said: “Critical infrastructure industries like steel function better in public hands and advanced economies like our own need to have stable, secure domestic steel production capabilities to protect our national security interests as well as to compete in global markets.

new bill to outlaw fire and rehire

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Fire and rehire is when bad bosses threaten workers with the sack and are told they will only be re-employed to do the same basic job if they accept less money and poorer conditions.

Even the government agrees that fire and rehire tactics are wrong but have refused to outlaw them. Jacob Rees-Mogg has described fire and rehire as “wrong” and a “bad practice” while Business Minister, Paul Scully, has branded it as “bully-boy tactics”.

Barry Gardiner is the MP for Brent North. He has introduced a Private Members Bill to outlaw it. Barry launched his campaign at Jacob Douwe Egberts in Banbury. As he pointed out in an article for the influential Insititute of Employment Rights:

Coffee consumption was up 40% during the lockdown and Jacobs Douwe Egbert made record profits, but that didn’t stop them threatening their workforce in Banbury with the sack unless they accepted a cut in wages of up to £12,000. No family should have to put up with that. I met hundreds of workers who told me what that loss of earnings meant for them: How do you pay your rent or your mortgage with a cut like that? How do you support your family? Every pound cut is a pound less to pay your rent, to pay your mortgage and the fear of eviction or repossession is very real.

The Bill proposed by Barry has already attracted support from over 100 MPs from every single party in the House of Commons – including a growing number of Conservative MPs. Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity union, declared: “Barry Gardiners Bill should have the support of every honest working man and woman in our country. He is 100 percent right that legislation, not just fine words, is needed to stop this disgraceful tactic.”

“STOP STEALING OUR TIPS!”

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When you give a tip in a restaurant it may not all be going to the worker as you intend. Instead, the company may be taking a hefty chunk of it.

Pizza Express, for example, recently decided to increase from 30 percent to 50 percent the amount that is deducted from the tips received by waiting staff.

The government had promised to address this problem. They first promised to introduce fair tips legislation in 2018 and the measure was included in the 2019 Queen’s Speech but no bill was introduced.

The lack of fair tips legislation, combined with the pandemic has created a huge fall in earnings for waiting staff.

One union, Unite, has written to the secretary of state for business Kwasi Kwarteng, stating the disappointment of hospitality workers that the government has failed to introduce legislation to introduce fair tips nor has it introduced “a code of practice to ensure fairness, transparency and genuine consultation on the allocation and management of tips”.

In its letter, Unite warns that as the hospitality sector opens up, experienced workers are increasingly reluctant to return due to low pay which is made worse by tips deductions. The letter says: “employers are again interfering with tips allocation and distribution, resulting in substantial cuts in amounts received. This combined with the acceleration of cashless pay and home deliveries has created a perfect storm which has effectively wiped out the value of the 2020 and 2021 uplifts in the national living wage and the national minimum wage.

Unite officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “A successful hospitality sector is essential for the recovery of the UK economy, but its return to health will be stifled by severe staff shortages until workers are paid fairly and properly. The Conservative government has continued to promise to introduce fair tips legislation and has equally failed to deliver on its warm words.

Hospitality workers can’t wait for promises on the never, never, they need action on tips now. When legislation is finally introduced it is essential that it is free of loopholes and action is taken to curtail the unethical use of troncs which unscrupulous employers use to divert tips away from waiting staff.

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, supported Unite saying: “As someone who benefited from tips when I worked in catering first as an agency waiter when a student and between jobs and second as a Restaurant Manager on the Railways when younger I know how important tips can be. When I give a tip I want to know that the worker who I want to reward for good customer service gets it. I support hospitality and catering workers when they say ‘stop stealing our tips!’.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT TO MEMBERS FOR 2020

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Statement to members for period ended  December 31 2020

as required by section 32a of trade union and labour relations (consolidation) act 1992

Income and Expenditure

The total income of the union for the period was £19,053. This amount included payments of £16,284 in respect of membership income of the union. The union’s total expenditure for the period was £19,130.

Political Fund

Solidarity union does not have a political fund.

General Secretary Salary and Other benefits

The General Secretary of the union was paid £8129 in respect of salary and £2070 in respect of benefits (a bonus of £530 and pension contributions of £1540).

Irregularity statement

A member who is concerned that some irregularity may be occurring, or have occurred, in the conduct of the financial affairs of the union may take steps with a view to investigating further, obtaining clarification and, if necessary, securing regularisation of that conduct.

The member may raise any such concern with such one or more of the following as it seems appropriate to raise it with: the officials of the union, the trustees of the property of the union, the auditor or auditors of the union, the Certification Officer (who is an independent officer appointed by the Secretary of State) and the police.

Where a member believes that the financial affairs of the union have been or are being conducted in breach of the law or in breach of the rules of the union and contemplates bringing civil proceedings against the union or  responsible officials or trustees, he should consider obtaining independent legal advice.

Auditor’s report


We have audited the financial statements of the SOLIDARITY (the ‘Union’) for the year
ended 31 December 2020 which comprise the Statement of Comprehensive Income,
Statement of Financial Position, Cash Flow Statement and notes to the financial statements,
including a summary of significant accounting policies. The financial reporting framework
that has been applied in their preparation is applicable law and United Kingdom
Accounting Standards, including FRS 102 “The Financial Reporting Standard applicable
in the UK and Republic of Ireland” (United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting
Practice). In our opinion, the financial statements:


• give a true and fair view of the state of the Union’s affairs as at 31 December 2020 and of
its result for the year then ended;
• have been properly prepared in accordance with United Kingdom Generally Accepted
Accounting Practice; and
• have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Trade Union and Labour
Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Basis for opinion

We conducted our audit inaccordance with International Standards on Auditing (UK) (ISAs (UK)) and applicable law. Our responsibilities under those standards are further described in the Auditor’s responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements section of our report. We are
independent of the Union in accordance with the ethical requirements that are relevant to
our audit of the financial statements in the UK, including the FRC’s Ethical Standard, and
we have fulfilled our ethical responsibilities in accordance with these requirements. We
believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a
basis for our audit opinion. Conclusions relating to going concern We have nothing to
report in respect of the following matters in which the ISAs (UK) require us to report to
you where:


• the Executive Committee’s use of the going concern basis of accounting in the preparation
of the financial statements is not appropriate, or
• the Executive Committee has not disclosed in the financial statements any identified
material uncertainties that may cast significant doubt about the Union’s ability to continue
to adopt the going concern basis of accounting for a period of at least twelve months from
the date when the financial statements are authorised for issue.


Other information


The Executive Committee is responsible for the other information. The other information
comprises the information included in the Report of the National Treasurer, other than the
financial statements and our auditor’s report thereon. Our opinion on the financial
statements does not cover the other information and, except to the extent otherwise
explicitly stated in our report, we do not express any form of assurance conclusion thereon.
In connection with our audit of the financial statements and matters on which we are
required to report by exception in light of the knowledge and understanding of the Union
and its environment obtained in the course of the audit, we have not identified material
misstatements in the financial report.

We have nothing to report in respect of the following matters where the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 requires us to report to you if, in our opinion:

  • adequate accounting records have not been kept, or returns adequate for our audit have
    not been received from branches not visited by us; or
  • the financial statements are not in agreement with the accounting records and returns; or
  • we have not received all the information and explanations we require for our audit.

Mano Butani
AMASS BTC
293 OLD CHURCH ROAD
COVENTRY
CV6 7DT

STRIKE TO OPPOSE FIRE AND RE-HIRE

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Workers who make cosmetics and pharmaceuticals sold by Boots are to strike against “fire and rehire” policies.

Manufacturer BCM Fareva, based in Nottingham, supplies products to the health and beauty retailer and other outlets.

Retail and distribution union Usdaw says BCM has threatened to “fire and rehire” its staff to cut pay and worsen conditions — a tactic being used by dozens of employers across Britain and affecting two million workers, according to the TUC.

The BCM workers will strike for 24 hours on Thursday, July 22.

Usdaw national officer Daniel Adams said: “The proposal to drastically cut sick pay and other terms and conditions for these key workers, who have given their all through the coronavirus pandemic, is totally unacceptable.

The company is now in the process of threatening to ‘fire and rehire’ staff unless they accept these dramatic cuts.

Our members have been left with little choice other than industrial action.

NHS: The George cross is not enough

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The Queen has given the NHS a collective medal for bravery and service. They were awarded the George Cross. The George Cross is the highest award bestowed by the Queen for non-operational gallantry or gallantry, not in the presence of an enemy.

That doesn’t make up for putting yourself and your loved ones at risk of deadly infection for more than a year. 

Giving NHS workers that recognition is important and right but it doesn’t pay the bills. Despite all ­workers’ sacrifices, and the urgent need to attract new staff, the ­government plans to offer them yet another below-inflation pay rise.

NHS staff were supposed to get a rise in April but workers are still waiting to see what increase the independent pay review body will recommend.

This meme sums up the feeling of NHS workers who are praised to high heaven but underpaid

UNISON is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver a swift rise to give the NHS the boost it needs after 16 months fighting Covid-19.

UNISON Eastern head of health Sasha Savage said: “NHS staff have given their all over the past year and a half but haven’t had any increase in pay for almost the entire pandemic.

We’ve all seen the gratitude the public has shown to the NHS and its staff through Covid, but it’s time for ministers to move beyond empty rhetoric and give staff a proper pay rise. “

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity union commented: “Let’s all get behind the UNISON campaign for fair wages for NHS staff. Sign their petition here and spread the word“.