Independent Articles & One For The Plumknee Boys

The Independent has made for very interesting reading over the last few days and it’s quality has made me glad it is my paper of choice, (it has at times made me rather embarrassed in the past, though I won’t dwell on that right now). Here are just afew (six) of the pieces that took my eye you may wish to digest-

“They are the forgotten workers of the Home Counties. For they spent their time not commuting in and out of London, but deep underground in the heart of rural Kent – once home to some of Britain’s deepest and most dangerous coal mines. Now, nearly 30 years on, the veteran coalminers are making an unlikely comeback. A makeshift hut in Deal, once home to the Betteshanger colliery, is the unofficial headquarters of a new environmental park that promises to bring jobs to the miners and a future for their families…” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-forgotten-mineworkers-of-the-garden-of-england-9037875.html)

“More than three million low-income families risk missing out on the economic recovery even if wages start to keep pace with inflation, according to an analysis for The Independent. The Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank which aims to improve living standards for the less wealthy, accused George Osborne of burying a £385m “stealth cut” in the small print of last year’s Autumn Statement, which will force the working poor to  “run uphill” and earn an  extra £1,000 a year just to stand still. The foundation has analysed the impact of the Chancellor’s decision to freeze the “work allowance” – the amount people can earn before their payment under universal credit starts to be withdrawn. The freeze means that even if their wages rise in line with the cost of living, their income will  fall in real terms because the allowance does not keep pace with inflation…” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osbornes-stealth-cuts-will-force-millions-to-miss-economic-recovery-9038023.html)

“The next Labour government will substantially increase the fines for breaching the National Minimum Wage, stop the use of tied housing that undercuts the minimum wage and ban recruitment agencies from having a policy only to hire foreign workers. The next Labour government will require all large employers hiring skilled workers from outside the EU also to take on an apprentice so that both business and young people will be equipped with the skills they need to succeed. And it goes wider than that. If we are to win a race to the top, Britain needs a Labour government with measures to drive up skills and drive out exploitation. That means skills for the forgotten 50 per cent of young people who don’t go to university, guaranteeing work for young people out of work for more than a year, and outlawing exploitative zero-hours contracts. And it also requires that we do more to strengthen the rules designed to help protect the living standards of Britain’s families. There is a loophole in the laws around agency work which allows firms to avoid paying agency workers at the same rates as directly employed staff. This is being used in sectors where levels of employment from abroad are high, such as food production, and now accounts for as many as one in six of those employed by agencies. The next Labour government will work with British business to close this loophole and ensure that agency workers cannot be used to undercut non-agency staff.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/well-close-this-unfair-lowwage-loophole-9039081.html)

“Exhausted, frustrated and dissatisfied, so that I am not able to the good job I know I am capable of doing”. The words of one midwife, writing in The Independent yesterday, have struck a chord with colleagues across the profession who today warned of the devastating impact that the midwife shortage is having on patient care and professionals’ own wellbeing. Writing anonymously, an NHS midwife explained that, after 10 years in the profession, staff shortages and work pressures mean that she can no longer carry on working regular 13 hour shifts, often with only three or four midwives to care for 28 women and 16 babies at any one time. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) called the account “depressingly familiar” and condemned the Government for failing to act on warnings that the NHS needs thousands more midwives, while readers contacted The Independent to recount their own experiences on Britain’s stretched maternity units.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/midwives-and-patients-warn-of-devastating-staff-shortages-9037908.html)

“Ministers faced demands last night to put on hold plans to make hundreds of flood specialists redundant in the light of the continuing storm devastation across Britain. As the Government held a meeting of Whitehall’s emergency Cobra committee to assess the damage, it was hit by accusations that George Osborne’s austerity drive would undermine work on shoring up coastlines and riverbanks. More than 1,600 posts are due to be shed by the Environment Agency by October, including an estimated 550 staff employed on flood protection, despite record numbers of flood warnings last year and fears the number will continue to grow because of climate change.” (http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-35538560.html)

And finally as light relief to some of that depressing news, Plumknee boys and fans (fan) will particularly appreciate the brief final sentence of this article.  A message in a bottle up your cunt, you’ll become a youtube celeb…

From The Independent Saturday 4th January 2014- Message in a bottle arrives 23 years late: “A woman who threw a message in a bottle into the North Sea more than 23 years ago has received a reply after it was discovered in the Netherlands. Zoe Averianov, from Hebden Bridge, was 10 when she threw the bottle on a ferry from Hull to Belgium on 12 September 1990. The bottle was found in a dyke”

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