The Labour Party was created by the Unions to represent the working class people of this country and it’s gains for working people are incalculable; it has a strong tradition of cooperation with the Unions and other socialist organisations and that continues today. Many trade union members are party members and many others go on to represent the party as elected representatives, the experiences of such people in shipyards, factories and building sites remains as invaluable today as it ever was, it is a tradition which must be maintained and strengthened, I’m delighted to see that that is still happening.
A good example of that tradition is right here on our doorstep in the shape of Jim Sheridan; Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Jim is a union man to his fingertips and knows the hardships which working people sometimes have to endure; he has got that “T-Shirt” having worked in the shipyards and suffered unemployment as well, he knows the score and can relate to people through his own experience. It comes as no surprise to find that Jim has just recently enjoyed success in bringing improved redundancy laws a step closer; meaning that a better deal for workers in hard times is making progress. A leading supporter of the Statutory Redundancy Pay (Amendment) Bill Jim was present on March 13th for its successful Second Reading in the Commons – a crucial step in the legislative process. If the Bill is enacted into law, it will increase the value of statutory redundancy pay by over £200 for every year that an employee has worked in a comany.
Speaking after the Bills Second Reading a delighted Jim said, “The value of redundancy pay has declined since its introduction in 1965, and is now capped at less than 60% of average earnings, meaning workers are losing out on thousands of pounds at the very moment they need it most. It is estimated that three out of every four workers facing redundancy today would benefit from a change to the redundancy pay level. Last week’s victory in Parliament was critical. We are now one step closer to making sure that hard-hit workers get a fairer deal.”
The Bill is also being backed by a coalition of the country’s leading trade unions and the Chair of the coalition, Tony Woodley (also the joint General Secretary of Britain’s largest trade union, UNITE) thanked Jim Sheridan for his continued support. “Workers take very close note of those who appreciate the difficulties they are going through and are striving to help them. Jim Sheridan MP is a true friend of working people. This campaign is a priority issue for the trade union movement. With the support of MPs like Jim we will win justice and deliver fair play on redundancy pay.” The Bill now awaits its Committee stage in the House of Commons, although trade unions and Labour MPs are urging the government not to delay and to make the changes in the Budget. Mr Sheridan also said, “In my constituency, just as in others up and down the land, workers are worried that they or someone in their family could be out of work. My priority is to do everything in my power to help people stay in work but I will also be fighting hard to make sure that where people do lose their jobs they are compensated appropriately and able to support themselves and their families. With the Budget looming there is a real opportunity before us to bring redundancy pay into line with the real cost of living. It would be tremendous to offer a helping hand to workers faced with tough times before the summer is out.”
This is a bread and butter issue and in the grand scheme of things at the moment with financial ruin and recession going on it might not register very highly with some people but, to many it is crucial; this is exactly why Labour MP’s like Jim Sheridan go into politics and it’s why we elect them, his priority is to the people whom he represents and many of them are vulnerable and in danger of losing their jobs; that is his priority and rightly so. Jim is fighting every inch of the way for people who need the strength of the union and Labour around them.
In the case of Jim Sheridan Labour MP; it does exactly what it says on the tin, “a union man and a Labour man” more power to him.