Monday, July 24, 2017

Pay Scandle – BBC must 'look very hard at itself' over pay gap, says Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader describes ‘appalling’ gender pay gap as 40 female presenters demand immediate action at BBC

Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey coordinated the letter from 40 women to the director general, Tony Hall, calling for action on the gender pay gap. Photograph: David Bebber for the Guardian View more sharing options

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, says the BBC needs to “look very hard at itself” over the gender pay gap, describing the gulf between men’s and women’s pay as appalling.

Household names including Newsnight presenters Emily Maitlis and Kirsty Wark, presenters Clare Balding and Angela Rippon and One Show host Alex Jones are among more than 40 women who have written to the director general, Tony Hall, to demand the BBC act to correct the pay gap. It was coordinated by Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey.

Corbyn said he would add his name to the letter written after revelations this week that stars such as the former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans took home more than £2m while its highest-paid female star, Claudia Winkleman, received £450,000 - £499,999.

He said Labour would insist on a pay audit of every organisation – public or private sector. “We’d also look at a 20:1 ratio between the chief executive and the lowest-paid staff in every public sector organisation,” he said.
At least 400 BBC employees earn less than a hundredth of what the corporation pays Evans, according to figures revealed by broadcasting union Bectu last week.

BBC presenter Andrew Marr defended his high salary during his programme on Sunday, saying his salary of up to £499,999 was because of his experience. However, he said older women were far less likely to have lengthy careers in broadcasting, putting them at a disadvantage.

“I’m a bit grizzled, going a bit weird around the edges,” he said. “But if I had been born Audrey Marr rather than Andrew Marr, I would have been out 10 years ago. There’s a real lack of older women on the screen.”

Conservative former minister Anna Soubry, who used to be a television presenter, said she kept a “very beady eye” on pay levels when she was a mother of the chapel at a branch of the National Union of Journalists. “I just wonder whether or not the de-unionisation of many places of work ... they played an important point in making sure there was fairness,” she said.

The letter from BBC presenters, which many tweeted on Sunday morning, said the women were seeking to address the imbalance to change the system for future generations.

“The pay details released in the annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years ... that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work,” it reads. 

“Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values. You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

Other stars who have signed the letter include Today presenters Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague, Wimbledon host Sue Barker, newsreader Fiona Bruce, 5Live presenter Emma Barnett and Europe editor Katya Adler.

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young said the pay gap had made her “angry and depressed”, while Garvey tweeted that the gap was revolting. Wark said the letter was a “billet doux” sent out of concern for all female employees at the BBC. Radio 4 presenter Andrea Catherwood said she hoped women across all industries would find it empowering.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

ACTU – Family trust another vehicle for the rich avoiding tax

21 July 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) calls for urgent reform of family trusts as yet more evidence surfaces of the rich avoiding paying their fair share of tax. New research by the Australia Institute reveals billions of dollars in tax revenue is being lost due to wealthy Australians using family trusts.

This is ripping a staggering $2 billion to $3.5 billion out of the economy, money that should be going to our schools and hospitals.

Workers are tired of shouldering the majority of our tax responsibility while the wealthy use loopholes to avoid contributing towards the essential services we all use and rely on.

It’s unacceptable that the 21.6 per cent of our national income which runs through 823,448 trusts, with assets of $3.1 trillion and income of $349.2 billion is being used as a tax dodge by the rich.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must urgently close this loophole and genuinely act to fix the tax system.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Workers are furious about tax avoidance and who can blame them. This stinks of a sweetheart deal; people with taxable incomes of $500,000 or more account for just 0.43 per cent of the population, yet they make up 51 per cent of all trust distributions.”
  • “The Government needs to genuinely act to reform the broken tax system that is worsening Australia’s already record high rate of inequality.”
  • “Unfortunately it is unlikely the Government will do the right thing.”
  • “Rather than fix gaping loopholes like this, Mr Turnbull continues to place the priority on getting his $65 billion corporate tax cut through Parliament. It shows how completely out of touch he is with ordinary Australians who are angry about the inequities in the tax system.”
  • “That’s why we’ve put the Turnbull Government on notice. We are going to change the rules.”
  • “The ACTU will pursue whatever community, campaign, legislative and legal mechanisms it deems appropriate to change the rules for working people in Australia in the pursuit of equality and fairness for all Australian workers, including in the tax system.”
  • “The only way to fix the system and improve equality is to join a union and change the rules.”

Spain: trade unionists convicted in continuing government attack on the right to strike

20 July 2017 News

The government of Spain continues its attack on the right to strike, a fundamental human right. On June 17, two UGT union representatives were convicted by a Madrid criminal court of taking part in a peaceful informational picket in Madrid during the March 29, 2012 general strike.

Rubén Ranz and José Manuel Nogales were found guilty by a Madrid criminal court and each fined EUR 1,825 under article 315.3 of the Criminal Code, a legislative vestige of the Franco era which the Rajoy government has revived Spain right to strike

The 7-year ‘exemplary’ prison terms demanded by the state prosecutor were not imposed, but the conviction sustains the use of fascist-era repressive legislation to attack a fundamental human right. The union will appeal the convictions as well as the fines. The law remains in the criminal code, a gross violation of Spain’s international human rights commitments.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ACTU – Workers’ wages are being stolen.

In Australia, ripping off workers isn’t the exception, it’s becoming the rule.

This week, we’ve seen a report from Unions NSW which looked at 200 foreign language job ads, and found 4 out of 5 were being ripped off.

  • We’ve seen restaurants in Melbourne, only paying workers $10 an hour for ten hour shifts.
  • Add these to the $2.6 million-dollar wage theft conducted by George Calombaris and you can see the disturbing trend.
  • It gets worse. One restaurant floor manager lost his job and had his visa application threatened because he asked for the wage theft to end.
  • Wage theft is a national crisis, and temporary visa workers are being hit hardest.
  • Our laws make it too hard for working people to enforce their basic rights. This is why wage theft has grown out of control. This has to change.
  • The rules that used to protect workers from theft are broken. But we’re going to change them.
  • By building a powerful movement, we can stop this rampant wage theft. Only a powerful union movement can change the rules to stop workers being ripped off in every pay packet.
  • And there’s no powerful union movement without you.
  • We’re going to build our movement by sharing the stories of those who have been ripped off.
  • Because when one person speaks up, it gives other people confidence to join them.
  • Share your story, or the stories of people you know, now. These stories will put the pressure on to change the rules, so that employers face real consequences for stealing wages.  
  • We know that through public pressure, these workers' pay will be restored. But that’s just part of the plan to change the rules.
  • Share your story now and stay tuned for more important updates on the growing movement to change the rules.
Sally McManus

ACTU Secretary

Authorised by S. McManus, ACTU Secretary. Australian Unions · L4 365 Queen St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia