Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Morning Star Reports on Aftermath of UK Vote: Tories Shut TUC Out of Brexit Talks
by Luke James in Britain
Morning Star

WORKERS’ voices are being shut out of Britain’s post-EU future by the Tory Business Secretary.

Sajid Javid called an emergency summit “to ensure that the negotiation of our future relationship with the EU is carried out in the interest of UK companies, investors, potential investors and workers.”

He invited the CBI bosses’ group and other big business lobbyists to yesterday’s economic summit but deliberately excluded the Trade Union Congress, which represents 5.8 million workers in 51 unions.

TUC officials told the Star they only learned of the meeting through weekend press reports.

The union body immediately wrote to the minister pressing the case for its inclusion, arguing that talks about Britain’s future must include the broadest range of expertise and opinion.

Mr Javid’s office replied that the TUC’s attendance was “unwarranted.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was “disappointing” that Tory ministers were refusing to work with the TUC to limit the impact of any economic downturn.

“At a time when the government should be looking to heal the wounds of a divisive campaign, this is a backward step,” she said.

“Unions must be present to feed in the concerns of working people and to contribute to the development of a practical plan to protect British jobs and industry.

“Excluding the TUC and our member unions from this meeting is not acting in the national interest.”

The future of the steel industry was likely to have been top of Ms O’Grady’s agenda had she been allowed to attend.

Steelworkers’ union Community has also demanded an urgent audience with Mr Javid.

General secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “The EU referendum result and the government turmoil that has resulted have placed new question marks over Tata Steel’s sales process and the trade unions need to understand what actions government will take to safeguard the future of UK steelmaking.”

Mr Javid was due to speak to Ms O’Grady by phone after yesterday’s summit and a government spokesman promised unions would be consulted over the renegotiation.

The spokesman said: “Clearly unions have an important role to play in contributing to plans to protect British jobs and ensure Britain remains open for business.”

But Tory ministers have a history of displaying their complete contempt for trade unions.

The Star revealed how the Tory minister met representatives of the CBI about the Trade Union Act a full month before bothering to consult the TUC.

The Prime Minister has also refused to meet Ms O’Grady for more than a year since she first made the request.

It took him nine months to respond to a letter from the TUC leader about the Trade Union Act.

Responding to the latest snub, Labour’s shadow minister for trade unions Ian Lavery warned the negotiation of Britain’s exit from the EU would be led “by the rich and for the rich.”

He said: “Javid’s refusal to engage with trade unions by shutting them out of meetings is proof that the Tory Party can’t be trusted to handle leave negotiations in the interests of working people.

“Trade unions must be involved at all levels in negotiating the exit to ensure that the already vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the cost of leaving the European Union.

“After the poisonous, divisive referendum campaign, ministers have a duty to act in the interests of the nation. The Tories are showing they are utterly incapable of doing so.”

Blaming ‘The Old’ For The EU Referendum Result Is Not Only Wrong, It’s Offensive

Morning Star
by Hannah Layland

AGE has certainly been an important demographic in the EU referendum. But in the hasty tweets and articles I have read since the result, some people who are supposedly on the left have been disappointingly lazy and in some cases outright offensive with their language about older people.

If the deciding group in this referendum were “the Muslims” or “the women” or “the LGBTQ community,” there would have been an outcry about the stereotyping and insults that have been slung.

Ageism is a prejudice like any other, and older people, particularly older women, are one of the most silenced and disempowered groups in our society.

Yet for some reason, it has been acceptable to publish things like: “I’m not giving up my seat to the elderly any more,” “Eye for an eye” or “Remember this when you’re dribbling in a care home and your family don’t visit.”

Maybe I am especially sensitive to it because I encounter more older people than your average young person.

For years I have worked with older people, as a carer and now for a local organisation, and I have become completely used to the intersectionality of “old age.”

People’s ethnicity, living conditions, gender and class alter their experiences and attitudes in old age.

Older people are as varied as the rest of us. They are certainly not one bigoted and privileged homogeneous lump.

Most young people probably only ever really get to know a couple of grandparents and that is the extent of their relationships with older people until they themselves get old, so perhaps that’s why they are struggling to see beyond the stereotype of the “bigoted and privileged homogeneous lump” and are using offensive language to disregard older people as such.

So let me just clarify that, in my experience, contrary to a lot of the angry accusations I have been reading, the vast majority of older people did not have a nice free university education.

Most of them went out to work at 14 or 16 years old. A lot of them were never able to buy their own house and those that could haven’t necessarily made a profit, let alone a huge profit, on it since.

Many older people have not had “golden pensions” or the sorts of careers they could retire at 60 on.

So I would suggest that if young people do have older relatives who really did have all of the above, any resentment towards them is more indicative of their own class and sense of entitlement — they had simply assumed the privileges of going to university and buying property and retiring early would continue in their family line.

Instead, the prospects for our generation are terrible, and I too am bitterly sad about the fact many young people will not be as fortunate as their parents and grandparents.

But the fault lies with the economic and social policies of our governments, not with the 80-year-old grandmother whose house price is now beyond your reach.

Whatever side of the EU debate you were on, the fallout from the result over the last couple of days just seems to be “othering” yet another group of us.

The young risk doing exactly what they accuse the old of doing to immigrants — creating a scapegoat to blame government decisions on.

During a discussion at London Pride this week, my pro-EU friends apportioned their frustration and blame to “the old working-class people in Wales” for voting to leave the EU.

Moments later we were warmly discussing the formation of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, where young LGBT activists formed an unlikely but long-lasting alliance with the “old working-class” Welsh miners during the strike.

The irony was not lost on me. Here we were celebrating a history of breaking down barriers and not making assumptions about groups of people, while at the same time cementing toxic walls of division between “the young” and “the old.” We are never going to make progress this way.

So to those on both sides of the EU debate and indeed beyond the EU debate, be as sensitive to ageism as you are to other prejudices.

There is certainly a nuanced debate to be had about geographical and generational attitudes.

But older people are simply not all the same, and we should not humour the cheap and offensive remarks that perpetuate this myth.

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