Plot by Tory ministers could slash paid holidays for 7 million workers, says TUC

From the TUC: A plot by #Tory ministers to scrap the Working Time Directive in the UK reported today could deny paid holidays to millions of workers, and make long working weeks the norm, the TUC has said.

The Sunday Times and Sun both report plans by ministers – including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – to scrap the Working Time Directive after Brexit.

Losing the protections of the directive means that:

  • 7 million workers could lose rights to paid holidays – 4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours or part-time contracts.
  • Even more workers could be forced by bosses to work weeks longer than 48 hours.
  • Workers could lose the right to lunch and rest breaks.
  • Night workers could lose some health and safety protections.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work. Millions could lose their paid holidays, and be forced to work ridiculously long hours.

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Apprenticeships fall by 59%

From The Guardian: Employers and unions have called for a rethink of the Tory government’s apprenticeship policies after a 59% fall in those taking up trainee posts since a new scheme was launched in April.

Just 48,000 people started an apprenticeship in the final three months of the educational year to July 2017, compared with 117,800 in the same period a year before. The biggest drop came in the lowest level “intermediate” apprenticeships, which dived by 75%, compared with a 48% drop in the most advanced training courses.

Critics of the scheme say the increased costs and complexities are deterring employers from creating apprenticeship posts.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Employment tribunal fees unlawful, Supreme Court rules

From BBC News: Fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful, and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

The Tory government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in 2013.

Government statistics showed 79% fewer cases were brought over three years – trade union Unison said the fees prevented workers accessing justice.

The Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.”

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“Scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance was a mistake”

Shakira Martin, President-elect of NUS, writes on FE Week: Scrapping the education maintenance allowance scheme in England was a mistake. Plain and simple. The coalition government did a U-turn on their education policy centred on ‘fairness and equality of opportunity for all’. Against all their rhetoric it took away from those who needed the help most. Labour’s commitment to reinstating the scheme if elected next month are a step in the right direction on the road to recovery for FE.

EMA made a significant difference to those from low-income backgrounds, covering essentials such as food, books and transport. It wasn’t perfect but it eased educational disadvantage and scrapping it has had major repercussions on students from lower-income families. At the time of implementation in 2004, financial constraints were seen as a barrier to involvement in post-16 education, it aimed to directly reduce the cost of education as a means for raising their participation (including influencing retention and attainment).

Many students were struggling then, and they’re still struggling now. We know from our own research that many find it difficult to cover their course costs with half stating that they had considered dropping out due to financial worries. This manifesto finally says to post-16 learners that our politicians are ready to invest in young people again and provide a real ladder to opportunities, skills and jobs.

[Read full column on FE Week website…]

Tory “economic competence”: Britain has biggest fall in real wages since financial crisis of any advanced country except Greece

From The Guardian: Britain has suffered a bigger fall in real wages since the financial crisis than any other advanced country apart from Greece, research shows.

A report by the TUC shows that real earnings have declined more than 10% since the credit crunch began in 2007, leaving the UK equal bottom in a league table of wages growth. Read more

Questions raised over fire service budget cuts after fatal fire in Merseyside

From the Fire Industry Association: The Fire Brigades Union has said the outcome of a fatal fire in Merseyside ‘could have been different’ if a local fire station had not been closed.

An elderly couple from the Wirral were tragically killed in the blaze, which broke out at their home, as fire crews missed their target response time due to five fire engines in the area attending a warehouse fire.

A fire engine attended the house fire from Upton fire station but remained without any backup for more than 10 minutes until a second engine arrived.

The station at West Kirby, which was located nearest to where the blaze broke out, closed last year as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service attempts to axe £11m from its budget by 2019-20.

The FBU said that budget cuts to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has seen its number of fire engines available to respond to emergencies cut from 42 to just 28.

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