Jessica Morden

Labour MP for Newport East

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After months of campaigning by the Labour Party and trade unions the Government finally made key concessions on the Trade Union Bill. Before Labour MPs could vote against the Bill, the Government announced they would accept the compromises proposed by the House of Lords.

Initially the Government had planned to change the way trade unionists paid into their union political fund. They wanted union members to "opt in" every five years to remain in the political fund and gave unions just three months to sign up their members. It was a blatant attack on the ability of unions to campaign for their members and a partisan attack on the Labour Party’s funding and therefore our ability to hold the Government to account.  The Government have now agreed to delay changes to political funding and have given trade unions 12 months rather than three to engage with new members and most importantly, current members will be exempt from the changes. This is a welcome move, and an important victory as rushing through the changes to political funds would have had serious knock-on effects for trade unions’ capacity to campaign.

After refusing to introduce e-balloting the Government again conceded and agreed to a trial of e-voting for strike ballots. This will allow trade unions to bring balloting into the twenty-first century and help towards boosting turnout and participation. These are not the only issues that we have forced a climb down on. Last week saw the Government back down over plans to end the right of workers to pay union subscriptions by deducting them from their wages.

While we welcome these concessions, Labour still remains opposed to the Trade Union Bill in its entirety.  It is unnecessary, bad for workers and bad for businesses. We will look to push for further concessions, as the only party truly standing up for working people.

Trade Union Bill update

After months of campaigning by the Labour Party and trade unions the Government finally made key concessions on the Trade Union Bill. Before Labour MPs could vote against the Bill,...

dtw.jpgOn Monday 18th April I attended a cross-party event in Parliament to support the TUC’s ‘Dying to Work’ campaign which is seeking to change the law to provide additional employment protection for terminally ill workers.

“People battling a terminal illness deserve choice and shouldn’t be forced to undergo stressful HR procedures with the risk of losing the positive stimulation and distraction of work. It is shocking to think that if people with terminal illnesses are dismissed or forced out of their jobs that their loved ones will lose the death in service payments that the employee has planned for and earned through a life-time of hard work. I am proud to back the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign and I am encouraging businesses in my constituency to sign up to the TUC’s voluntary charter to help ensure that the current law is changed.”

Dying to Work was set up following the case of Jacci Woodcook, a 58-year-old sales manager from Derbyshire, who was forced out of her job after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

In addition to support from across the political spectrum, the campaign has also been endorsed by a number of trade unions and charities, including Breast Cancer Care and Second Hope.

 

Furthermore, the company, E.On have today (Monday 18th April) become the first company to sign the Dying to Work voluntary charter to provide support to their employees and the campaign in a ceremony in College Green..

 

TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Worrying about your job should be the least of your concerns when you receive a terminal diagnosis.

 

“It’s fantastic to have this event in Parliament as a chance for MPs from all parties to show their support and get involved in this campaign to make terminal illness a protected characteristic.”

 

“Hopefully now more employers will now follow E.ON’s lead by signing the Dying to Work Charter and we will see further action in Parliament to deliver this vital employment protection for terminally ill workers.”

 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 

- The TUC Dying to Work Voluntary Charter states the following:

1. We recognise that terminal illness requires support and understanding and not additional and avoidable stress and worry.

2. Terminally ill workers will be secure in the knowledge that we will support them following their diagnosis and we recognise that safe and reasonable work can help maintain dignity, offer a valuable distraction and can be therapeutic in itself.

3. We will provide our employees with the security of work, peace of mind and the right to choose the best course of action for themselves and their families which helps them through this challenging period with dignity and without undue financial loss.

4. We support the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign so that all employees battling terminal illness have adequate employment protection and have their death in service benefits protected for the loved ones they leave behind.

5. In addition to the Charter, a negotiator’s guide to terminal illness will also be launched at the same time outlining how union reps can raise the issue of terminal illness and broach the topic with employers.

- More information about the Dying to Work campaign can be found at www.dyingtowork.co.uk

- The event is taking place in Room A, 1 Parliament Street. Press should enter Parliament through the entrance at 1 Parliament Street and call Sarah Coombes on 07743325890 to be escorted to the room.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews

Backing the TUC’s ‘Dying to Work’ campaign to protect terminally ill workers

On Monday 18th April I attended a cross-party event in Parliament to support the TUC’s ‘Dying to Work’ campaign which is seeking to change the law to provide additional employment...

2016-4-12steeljesscrop.png

Yesterday the Speaker of the House of Commons agreed to a request from Labour MPs for an emergency debate on steel. Here is my contribution:

"We have two important debates this afternoon: this one on steel, and the debate later on the contaminated blood scandal. As a steel group member, I am incredibly pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) has been able to secure the debate. I gently reassure anyone who has come to lobby on the contaminated blood scandal that hon. Members will be here to speak for them in that debate later. It will be a very long day for those who have travelled from far and wide to get here. Both of the debates remind me of “Groundhog Day”, because we have to come back time and again to rehearse the same arguments and press for action.

Understandably, much of the focus has been on Port Talbot, and I praise my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) for his efforts with the steel unions. As has been said, however, this is a UK steel crisis. Steel making may have ceased in 2001 in Llanwern, but slab has been imported by rail from our sister plant in Port Talbot ever since. Our steelworkers are proud to roll UK steel, and they want to continue to do so. They are looking to the Government to ensure that happens.

At Llanwern, we have taken a cumulative hit over the last few years. Hundreds of jobs have been lost, to the point where we have 700 left. It has been painful. Many of the Llanwern steel workers have transferred to Port Talbot, and they now face uncertainty there. As my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) has said eloquently, steel could have a great future. At Llanwern, we have the Zodiac line, which is Tata Steel’s world-class coil galvanising line. The Zodiac line is doing well. Orb Electrical Steels, which produces a type of high-tech electrical steel, is in profit following a period of restructuring a few years ago. As is often said in debates such as this, steel is cyclical, and Orb demonstrates that. The order books are healthy.

We have had much in the way of warm words, with phrases such as “do all we can to help”—that has been said again today—but what do they mean in practical terms? The asks from the unions have been well rehearsed today, and I would like to add to them. The unions want fast action to protect the order books to ensure the businesses are saleable. It is crucial to the future of Llanwern and Orb that they are not undermined by seepage of business elsewhere before any sale or transferring of work. The unions want time for the sale, as my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop) has said. It is important to know the timescale. Long Products took nine months, and Tata appears to be saying four months. As the shadow Business Secretary has said, we need time for an appropriate consideration of offers. What is the news on the Secretary of State working with Tata to ensure that it is a responsible seller?

I have many steelworkers in my constituency but also a large number of steel pensioners. Can the Government give those pensioners and future steel pensioners some reassurance about their pension fund, and can the Secretary of State outline the actions that the Government are taking?

The asks from the steel industry in recent times have been for action on Chinese dumping, on which the Government have failed. They have also failed to act on the lesser duty rule. It is ironic that while our Government have been slow to act on tariffs to protect our industry, the Chinese Government have just imposed 46% tariffs on electrical steel. Although Orb no longer exports to China, companies in other countries do. They will be looking for alternative customers in other countries, and that could mean issues down the line for our electrical steel industry sales.

We have asked for action on energy prices. That took two years to deliver, and is only just coming through now. That is too slow. We need real action on procurement, not simply the souped-up advice note that came out last week. Will the Minister tell us today what specific projects he has in mind? The Welsh Government have done all they can to help with the levers that they have had at their disposal. That has included setting up the steel taskforce to work on practical ways to help. I know from my union reps who came here yesterday how much that relationship is valued.

References were made yesterday to grandstanding, and they have been repeated today. I assure hon. Members on both sides of the House that steel group members have raised issues to do with steel time and time again in the Chamber. It is not grandstanding; it is personal. It is personal because our constituents are loyal, resourceful, highly skilled and incredibly hard-working. We understand what they are going through in tough times. These are valued jobs.

The issue is also personal because I look around the Chamber and see my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), who worked at Llanwern, as did his dad; I see my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), whose dad also worked there. I see my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), who worked as an industrial chemist in Llanwern. My parents met in the steel industry at Ebbw Vale. There are many others. We cannot let our steelworkers down, and I make no apology for speaking up for them."

 

Note:

Here is a link to a recording of my speech.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-04-12/debates/16041234000002/UKSteelIndustry#contribution-16041238000066

Emergency Steel Debate 12th April

Yesterday the Speaker of the House of Commons agreed to a request from Labour MPs for an emergency debate on steel. Here is my contribution:


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