Thursday, 10 November 2011

Derby visit highlights social costs of government policies

Frances O'Grady with Mohammed Sharief, Executive Director of JET (right)
 and TUC Regional Secretary Rob Johnston (left)
When TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady viisted Derby one message came through loud and clear - government policies on manufacturing, jobs, procurement, pensions and social welfare were just not working.
During her visit to the threatened Bombardier plant she heard of the frustrations of both management and shop stewards who knew their plant could be successful if they were given the chance. They also were very aware that Bombardier is the last UK based train manufacturer and were keen to see the skills required for train building retained in this country. Generations of derby workers had delivered high quality trains to customers - now threatened by the decision to give the Thameslink contract to Siemens.
The second leg of Frances' visit took her to JET - Jobs Education and Training - set in the most deprived wards of Derby. Mohammed Sharief, Executive Director of JET, explained how the need for the services his organisation had grown recently. "We now have over 1,000 people coming through our doors every month," he said, "looking for support in a whole range of areas from learning to speak English to setting up a business". Mr Sharief continued, "We are also aware that cuts to the voluntary sector means other support organisations are finding it difficult to continue so we look at how we can help them keep going."
The final leg of the tour was to discuss the current dispute around public sector pensions which will result in a day of action on November 30th. Plans to build for a march and rally in derby were well advanced - and turnout is expected to be high given some unions not noted for taking strike action had also returned yes ballots.
Frances said, "It is always good to get out of Congress House and hear the views of the people e represent, on both industrial and social issues. Clearly there is much going on in Derby of which working people can be proud - our aim is to keep them in work and to support those without jobs in getting them - and soon."

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