Archive for Employment

Crackdown pledge on unfair zero-hours contracts welcomed by Tom

Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (10th September 2013) welcomed pledges by Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, to crackdown on the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.

In his speech at the TUC conference Ed Miliband proposed three specific measures:

  1. Banning employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work.
  2. Stopping zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business.
  3. Ending the misuse of zero-hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

Tom said:

“I’m very pleased that Ed has committed a Labour Government to tackling the growing exploitative use of zero-hours contracts that provide so much uncertainty for both businesses and employees. The uncertainty that zero-hours contracts create is extremely damaging on multiple levels. Families don’t know if they will have a wage one week to the next and are therefore unable to plan for their future.

“Whilst I accept that these types of contracts may be suitable for certain types of workers who enjoy the flexibility, unfortunately for many it makes family life impossible to manage and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

“We must reform this type of employment so we don’t just have more people in jobs; but more people in decent jobs that are secure and pay a wage you can live off. I believe that what Ed pledged today will go some way to tackle these unethical practices.”

Chaotic Army cuts without a plan

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (18th June 2013) criticised the Tory-led Government for what he described as “chaotic cuts” to our army without a proper plan in place to ‘plug the gap’.

The criticisms came following approximately 5,000 members of the British Army receiving their redundancy notices.

Tom said:
“These cuts to our army are a represent a huge risk and it is not unfair to say that there is a massive effort going into sacking soldiers but nowhere near as much is being done to plug the gap by recruiting new reservists.

“Senior Army figures are right to warn that Ministers’ decisions could lead to a mismatch between capability and ambition. The Government’s defence plans rest on doubling the number of Reserves and yet there is a recruitment crisis and employers have not been properly engaged. These redundancies represent not just broken promises but a failing strategy, and the level of voluntary applicants will be a signal of morale within our Armed Forces.

“It is very likely that we will end up with the army losing a significant number of fully trained soldiers, who will now not be able to pass on their expertise to new recruits. It will create a ‘capability gap’ and could mean that, if an emergency were to break out, the lack of learned skills and NCO’s with field experience new recruits are put into a perilous position on the front line.”

Tom also echoed his calls for local companies to enlist in Labour’s ‘Veterans Interview Programme’.

Tom added:
“Beyond our defence capabilities we must remember that each redundancy notice now represents an out-of-work hero and, in many cases, a worried family. It is vital that local communities support our Armed Forces and, particularly now, there must be greater support to find veterans employment and enhance post-service opportunities. I’d again urge local business to enlist in the ‘Veterans Interview Programme’ as a sign of that support.”

Latest jobs figures shows the Government is still letting down Teesside

Labour Market  Statistics released today (12th June 2013) showed that, across Teesside, long term unemployment and long term youth unemployment continues to be a growing issue.

Commenting on today’s Labour Market Statistics, Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said:

“Teesside can’t wait any longer for action. Ministers must get off their hands and start helping now before they condemn a whole generation to joblessness.

“In my constituency long term unemployment is still up 12% on the year, and long-term youth unemployment is up 26%. This story is repeated in Stockton South where the figures are even more damning – long term unemployment is up 30% and long-term youth unemployment is up 62%. It is getting clearer by the day that this government is letting down our area.

“In addition to this, there continues to be a big squeeze on wages. Excluding bonuses, annual wages have fallen by £1,362 and the pay increase of 1.3% that today’s figures showed means wages are lagging way behind consumer price increases.

“The bottom line is unemployment is now higher than it was at the last election and living standards are falling year on year under this government. We urgently need action to get local people into work. This is why Labour is calling for a compulsory jobs guarantee, which will get any adult out of work for more than two years, or young person out of work for a year, into a job – one they would be required to take.”

Tom welcomes pledge to boost technical and vocational training

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today (5th June 2013) welcomed Labour’s pledge to boost the status of technical and vocational training in England by accrediting a string of “national centres of excellence” in key sectors such as engineering and IT.

The aim would be to raise the quality and profile of the country’s premier further education colleges to that of the leading universities and to focus on the needs of the economy, by tackling the skills gap and educational needs.

Tom said:
“We urgently need action to get our young people into work. In my constituency over 1,000 18-24 year olds are unemployed and a quarter of them have been for at least 12 months. Investment in skills has been slashed, subjects such as engineering undermined, work experience opportunities cut and independent careers advice ended.

“This is a key issue for Teesside. I am constantly told by chemical industry managers that the skilled process workforce is now very mature and there is a desperate need for better vocational training for process industry skills – an area which is rapidly developing – so that the local skill strengths are maintained for coming decades. Addressing this skills shortfall, on both the supply and demand sides, is critical to rebalancing our economy and ensuring our young people have the best opportunities available to obtain not just work – but a career. Colleges, employers and vocational training play a vital role in this, and it can be helped immensely by the kind of initiative that labour is proposing.

“David Cameron and Michael Gove have spent the last three years undermining technical education – damaging the quality of apprenticeships, downgrading the engineering diploma and narrowing the curriculum so skills are side-lined.

“To effectively rebalance our economy, we need a skills system which meets the needs of our economy and leaves no one behind. Driving up the standard of technical and vocational qualifications through ‘centres of excellence’ is one way we can achieve this.”

Economic growth proposals for Teesside quashed by Vince Cable

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (April 30th 2013) slammed comments made by Business Secretary Vince Cable that Teesside – and the rest of the North East will have to, in Tom’s words, “whistle in the wind” for previously promised extra cash to boost regeneration and economic growth.

In a speech made in front of journalists, Mr Cable said that organisations like the Tees Valley  ‘Local Enterprise Partnership’ (LEP) was simply not capable of handling huge sums of public money, arguing that big decisions must be administered from Whitehall.

Mr Cable also said “There is a genuine concern about local enterprise partnerships. Hardly any of them come up to me and say ‘we would like billions more money to spend’…They are quite small groups… [and only had] five, six, or seven business people on the board” adding: “You can’t hand over large chunks of public money, with limited controls, into that kind of structure.

Tom said:
“Vince Cable has unilaterally and brutally torn up a report drawn up by Lord Heseltine and endorsed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that proposed that the LEP’s would get a share of the £70 billion proposed by Lord Heseltine and Chancellor George Osborne.

“It is an utter insult to the businesspeople who sit on the local LEPs, people who, in their day-to-day life make multi-million pound decisions in areas like the chemical, logistics and the engineering industries.

“In effect Mr Cable has told Teesside to ‘drop dead’ over pleas for real cash to invest in local industry and the creation of much needed jobs for Teesside’s unemployed. Put simply this is a mess and it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who is calling the shots here – is it the Chancellor or Vince Cable?

“The LEP’s were touted as the Government’s big idea to replace regional development agencies that existed under the previous Labour Government and helped direct spending in the regions. Now we see them downgraded at the whim of one Liberal Democrat Minister. Worse, in his comments he lashed into what he saw as differences between Teesside and the rest of the North East – fuelling and stoking up inter-regional squabbles, diversions which we all need like a hole in the head.
“What is needed is simple common sense from the Government, an endorsement of the spending plans of both the Tees Valley and North East LEP’s and a steer for both to work together more closely – and not the exact opposite.”

“In the final analysis the voters will know who to blame – but that won’t be until 2015.This issue has to be settled now – and settled properly in the interests of jobs and growth for our area.”

Latest jobs figures shows the Government is ‘letting down our area’

Responding to today’s (17th April 2013) employment figures, local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, claimed that the Governement is ‘letting down our area’.

Tom said:
“Here in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland long term unemployment is up 25% on the year, and long-term youth unemployment is up 43%.  It is getting clearer by the day that this government is letting down our area.

“Before they condemn a whole generation to joblessness Ministers must take the decisive action we need to get our communities working again starting with Labour’s compulsory jobs guarantee to get anyone out of work for more than two years back into a job; a job people must take or lose their benefits.

“The message to ‘change course’ with their economic plan is coming in from all directions. Even with unemployment getting worse George Osborne still won’t listen.”

‘Budget Day employment stats are clear indication of Osborne’s failure’

Commenting on employment figures released today (20th March 2013) local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, suggested that ‘no clearer sign was needed to prove that George Osborne’s economic plan is a failure’.

Tom said:
“We are now over half way through Parliament and all Osborne’s economic policies have delivered is a flat lining economy that is tinkering on the edge of an unprecedented triple-dip recession; rising unemployment – of which our next generation is paying a brutal price as youth unemployment has soared back up towards the million mark – and in the North East unemployment increased by 3000 on the previous quarter; whilst inflation is putting overwhelming pressure on many family budgets.

“Today’s Budget offered Osborne the chance to change course and produce a Budget for growth. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that when a plan isn’t working, you change the plan.”

‘Headline employment figures aren’t reflective of what is happening’ on Teesside

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures released today (20th February 2013), Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, suggested that national headlines of falling unemployment do not reflect what is happening in his constituency as unemployment goes up again.

Tom said:
“Yet again, these figures show that unemployment is up in my constituency from the previous month. Similarly unemployment is up in the neighbouring constituencies of Redcar and Stockton South – most striking here is the level of 18 to 24 year old claimants for 6 months or more which is up almost 70% since the General Election in 2010. Despite this, the North East remains amongst the hardest hit by Government cuts.

“On top of this is a report detailing child poverty across the UK, with Middlesbrough ranked the 3rd worst – 37% of children are living in poverty. You can begin to understand why this is a problem that is only getting worse when you look beyond the headline employment figures you can see how even those people who are in work are struggling to balance family budgets as they have taken an average £1,200 pay cut since the election.

“Next month’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to change course and address the crisis we face. That’s why Labour is demanding the Government introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get anyone out of work for more than two years straight into a job.”

‘Another month of bad unemployment figures’

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures released today (23rd January 2013), Tom Blenkinsop MP described them as ‘yet another month of bad news for people wanting to get into the workplace’.

Tom said:
“These new figures from December 2012 show that unemployment in my constituency is up from the previous month and up from the same time last year. So far this year we have had three major retailers slip into administration putting around 16,000 jobs at risk – so I dread to think what upcoming unemployment stats will look like.

“Almost 3,500 people are out of work in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland – 149 more than last year, but it is more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. It is families losing an income, it’s young people unable to afford the rent, and it is massive bump in the road for someone saving for retirement.

“With unemployment in my constituency up, it is clear that this Government’s policies are failing. The Regional Growth Fund appears to be doing very little to help hard-working families on Teesside and in East Cleveland. David Cameron and George Osborne need a proper plan for jobs, growth and regional development. If they do not deliver this, the benefits bill will spiral out of control, the future of our young people will be put at risk and they will continue to fail the economic test they set themselves – cutting the deficit.”

Unemployment remains high in constituency despite national fall

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today (12th December 2012) expressed his on-going concern at “stubbornly high unemployment rates” in his constituency.

The number of unemployed claimants in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in November 2012 was 3,418 – 135 higher than the same time last year and 8.0% of the economically active population in the area.

Tom said:
“Despite the national headline fall in  unemployment this is clearly not the case in my constituency, 135 more people are now in the awful position of unemployment. Long term unemployment is refusing to budge and the Work Programme is, quite simply, failing to make a difference.

“Until constituencies like mine start showing consistently improving employment figures – including long term unemployed and youth unemployment – then the Government can’t claim to be on the “right track” to getting our economy working again.”