AN INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF STAMPS WILL HIT LOW INCOME FAMILIES AND THE ELDERLY, AS WELL AS BUSINESSES

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Ian Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, commenting on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report on stamp prices, said:

“There are real concerns that an increase in the price of stamps will hit low income families and those who rely on the postal service the most, such as the elderly, as well as businesses up and down the country.

“Whilst it is important to recognise the financial pressures that Royal Mail is under, any price increases must be implemented in a considered and measured way – a 53% hike in the price of second class stamps from 36p to a possible 55p will hit the least well off. As stamp prices go up, people will want assurances that the service provided by Royal Mail will continue to improve and does not deteriorate.

“We need to ensure that the deregulation of postal prices does not have a detrimental impact on consumers and businesses, which at the present time is the last thing they need.  Royal Mail must recognise the tough circumstances people are currently in and work with its customers to find a way forward. Royal Mail’s commitment that Christmas 2012 stamp prices will be held at their 2011 level for vulnerable consumers is to be welcomed.  However, as the Committee noted, Royal Mail’s policy is underdeveloped and we do need further clarity on who will be eligible and how this will be monitored.”

EDINBURGH LABOUR MPs IN FINAL PUSH FOR GREEN INVESTMENT BANK

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Edinburgh Labour MPs have today written to Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, the Prime Minister, the First Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore in a final push to have the proposed Green Investment Bank situated in Edinburgh.

 

Ian Murray said:

“With the announcement of the decision on the Bank’s location due shortly, we have made one final push to highlight why Edinburgh is the obvious choice for the Green Investment Bank.  Our city has the required skilled and specialist staff and is an established financial hub in Europe.  Indeed the Bank would be at the heart of the financial services sector in Edinburgh which would be hugely important to residents across the city.

 

Mark Lazarowicz added:

“I have reiterated to Vince Cable that if the Bank is sited in Edinburgh, it will be able to link up with local companies and the top-class universities that we have to offer.  This connection will be vital in ensuring that the technology we need for our green economy to flourish is developed.  This is a campaign I have supported from the start and it would be great for it to come to fruition.”

 

Sheila Gilmore said:

“The Green Investment Bank will play a big role in greening the economy. It will step in to back green infrastructure projects where the private sector cannot do so. The Government should base the bank in Edinburgh to allow it draw on expertise from institutions such as the University of Edinburgh in my constituency. This would then provide hundreds of good quality well paid professional jobs for people in the city – something that would be welcome during these difficult economic times.”

 

MP IAN MURRAY HIGHLIGHTS ROLE OF GANGMASTERS LICENSING AUTHORITY IN PROTECTING VULNERABLE WORKERS

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SHADOW Business Minister Ian Murray has highlighted the important role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority – and called on the Government to ensure the GLA’s powers remain robust.
The GLA exists to regulate those who supply workers to provide services in industries such as agriculture, forestry, horticulture, shellfish gathering, food processing and packaging.
It was established in 2005 in the wake of a tragedy in Morecambe Bay that claimed the lives of 23 cockle-pickers, who had been organised by a so-called ‘gangmaster’.
Since then the GLA has played a vital role in the regulation of organised labour. But its future is now subject to the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ and Ministers “Star Chamber”.
Today (Tuesday 21 February) Mr Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, secured a Westminster Hall debate on the Future of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
Commenting on the debate, he said: “Until the tragic deaths of the 23 cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004, the term ‘gangmaster’ had fallen out of use. But that incident led to a much wider debate about those who organised casual workers – and sometimes those who exploited them.
“The Gangmasters Licensing Authority was set up to regulate those ‘gangmasters’ who supplied workers in industries that include agriculture and food processing.
“It has already proved to be a life-saving body that safeguards the welfare of some of the most vulnerable groups of workers; protecting them from exploitation and modern day slavery.”
Mr Murray pointed to GLA figures that show that in 2010/11 the organisation identified 845 cases of workers being exploited and that their work led to 33 licences being revoked.
He welcomed previous suggestions that the Government had no plans to abolish the GLA – but raised concerns about the role of the GLA remained under review.
Mr Murray said: “There has been significant confusion caused by the Government’s Red Tape Challenge. But the Minister needs to be crystal clear that there will be no watering down of the GLA and its powers.
“This is not about counting paper clips but saving lives, preventing exploitation, promoting clean supply chains, exposing organised criminal activity and undermining human trafficking.
“The GLA was set up on the back of a horrendous tragedy. Any reduction in the remit of the GLA would put vulnerable workers at risk of exploitation, modern slavery and perhaps even death.”

Local MP joins Bruntsfield residents and traders to discuss Sainsburys takeover

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Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray has welcomed the success of the Bruntsfield traders and residents meeting to discuss the acquisition of the Peckham’s site by Sainsburys. Ian was joined by over 100 local residents and traders to discuss these proposals, which have the potential to have a detrimental effect on the Bruntsfield shopping area.

Sainsburys have leased the former Peckham’s site and have proposed to create a shop on the ground floor level, with the lower level becoming a bakery for the premises. Sainsburys submitted an application to the licensing board to transfer the premises licence on the 10th February, and this is still pending approval.

Commenting, Ian said:

“Bruntsfield is one of the most thriving and vibrant communities in Edinburgh, with a wide array of outstanding independent shops, for this reason, it is vitally important that we all work together to minimise any effect this could have on the area, but also maximise the positives that this could bring. To aid in this, I repeat the offer that I made at the meeting on Thursday night, to have my office help local traders create a “Bruntsfield Traders Association”. This will help encourage local residents to shop locally, and as a local resident myself, I hope that this will keep our outstanding local community thriving as it has done for so many years.

I would like to pay special thanks to local resident Cate Nelson-Shaw and local trader Karen Mackay from Nippers for organising the meeting, and to local residents for taking the time to come along and discuss this important issue.”

 

 

 

Member of Parliament’s Innovative Approach Receives Recognition

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The pioneering work done by the office of Ian Murray MP has received special recognition at the DODS Parliamentary Awards 2012. Paul McKay accepted his prize as researcher of the year for The Politics Home Digital Engagement Award at a special ceremony held in Westminster. Ian’s e-magazine is the first of its kind for MPs and is an innovative way of communicating with his constituents. In developing the monthly online eMagazine, Ian gives the residents of South Edinburgh the opportunity to see firsthand what he has been up to in Parliament and the local community and get his views on the top stories both locally, nationally and internationally. It also gives people the opportunity to interact directly with their Member of Parliament as Mr Murray can be contacted online through the eMagazine.

The eMagazine currently goes to over 6000 constituents every month and if you would like to receive a copy please follow this link here it is complete free.

Ian said “I want to congratulate Paul McKay who developed and administers the eMagazine, I am extremely honoured to serve the people of South Edinburgh and I want to try new and innovative ways of communicating and discussing the issues that matter to them. I want to engage as many people as possible in the debate and express my views in a way that is easy to understand and hopefully enjoyable to read, listen and watch with my audio and video feeds. The online magazine also has great environmental benefits as it cuts down the amount of paper MPs use and hopefully over time will negate that need all together. As a local MP who does more advertised open surgeries than any other MP in the country I am keen for the local community to use this eMagazine as a free advertising medium for their events, announcements and information. More and more local groups are using it in this way. I would encourage anybody who has access to the internet and lives in South Edinburgh to sign up to the free service”.

Young people in Edinburgh South given the Chance to be Chancellor for the Day.

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Young people in Edinburgh South given the Chance to be Chancellor for the Day.

Ian is supporting the launch of Chance to be Chancellor 2012 and is calling on schools and young people in Edinburgh South to take up the challenge to learn about, and share their opinions on, Budget 2012. Run by the Citizenship Foundation, in partnership with Aviva, Chance to be Chancellor is open to all 14-18 year olds across the UK.

Ian said “Last year nearly 3,000 young people told the Government what they thought, the outcome of which became the UK’s first Youth Budget published in March. Chance to be Chancellor culminates in a high profile event at the HM Treasury where a question and answer session with senior politicians and decision makers takes place. This is a great way for the young people of Edinburgh South to get involved in political debate and let the Government know what they think should be a priority in the forthcoming budget”

Running until the 20th February, participants can enter into a national competition to win great prizes and visit HM Treasury in London.

To find out more and get involved visit:
http://www.chancetobechancellor.org.uk

TORY BILL TO WATER DOWN TRADE UNION FACILITIES RIGHTS EXPOSED AS OUT OF STEP WITH BUSINESS AND COULD COST THE TAX PAYER OVER £700m A YEAR

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Ian Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, has responded to a Tory backbenchers Ten Minute Rule Bill to be introduced by Jesse Norman MP and said that it is out of step with business and could ultimately be more costly for the public purse.  He has expressed concern that the Bill targets a policy which fosters good business and has urged the Government not to support him.

 

Mr Norman’s Bill seeks to limit the work of trade union and workplace representatives.  However, representatives in the workplace have a tightly defined set of duties which they receive paid time off for.  This is defined under the Acas Code of Practice on Time Off for Trade Union duties and activities (CoP 3) 20091.  The duties of representatives include negotiating with employers, representing members in disputes and performing the necessary duties of a Health & Safety or Union Learning Rep. Many additional duties conducted by Reps are with agreements made by employers with Trade Unions.  These agreements are finalised by employers themselves with full knowledge of the costs and benefits.

 

Additionally, the Tax Payers’ Alliance figures which Mr Norman frequently refers to are very selective and have been shown to be plainly wrong2.  Their claimed figure of £113 million cost to the public sector includes alleged payments to unions that no longer exist, organisations which are not certified trade unions and money from other designated funds.

 

Ian Murray MP said:

 

“At its core, this issue is about what is good for both the employee and employer in the fostering of a healthy relationship in the workplace.  Facilities time and workplace reps do exactly that.

 

“However, the Tories are so out of touch that they fail to see that effective staff engagement and wider union representation in the workplace is good for business in both the public and private sectors.

 

“The Government needs to be clear that Mr Norman’s Bill is out of step with business and not the answer to the UK’s economic ills.  Indeed, it could cost the public purse as much as £720m in lost benefits and savings. The Business Secretary particularly, must join the business and public sector community, as well as his colleagues5, and take a stand on this Bill.”

 

This view has been backed today by the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) which represents chemical and pharmaceutical businesses across the UK and internationally.  Simon Marsh of CIA said7:

 

“Rather than focussing on changing the way in which businesses allow time for local trade union representatives to do their duties, the Government’s time would be better spent demonstrating the many successes of how employers work with trade unions right across the country to improve company performance not just in employment matters but also in many other issues including health & safety, the environment and sustainability.”

 

A joint study in 2009 by the Government, TUC and the CBI showed that all those involved – employees, the union and the employer – have directly benefited from workplace representatives and the use of facilities time.  The TUC in their 2012 report, “Facility time for union reps: separating fact from fiction” showed that for each pound spent on facilities time it saves business between £2 and £9.3

 

In 2009, then CBI Director General Richard Lambert said:

 

“In today’s difficult economic climate, it is more important than ever that all resources available to the workplace are well deployed.  Union reps constitute a major resource.  We believe that modern representatives have a lot to give their fellow employees and to the organisations that employ them.”4

 

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) have also stated their concerns.  TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

 

“Employers in both the public and private sectors know only too well the value of union reps in the workplace. They know that without the hard work and expertise of tens of thousands of union reps they would face increased recruitment and retention costs, experience a drop in productivity and staff morale, and would see themselves hauled before employment tribunals far more frequently than is currently the case. For them the cost of union reps is more than outweighed by the many and varied benefits.

 

“Successive governments have recognised the moral, legal and economic case for supporting workplace reps – this government should do the same and steer clear of the ideologically-driven obsessions of a handful of right wing back benchers.”