Kevin Devine

What about the WorkERS?

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What is the state of relations between employers and workers in the UK? This is the question the latest Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS), which has just come out, aims to answer.

Conducted every seven years or so, the results are based on interviews with managers and trade union reps, and employees' responses to a questionnaire. The latest study was carried out in 2011 and as such it presents a snapshot of industrial relations during the greatest recession of modern times, and permits comparisons with previous studies, conducted when the economy was arguably in better shape.

To hell in a Chelsea tractor?

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The news that Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port is to move to a four-day week, albeit with no cut in basic working hours, highlights the predicament facing the UK motor industry. The industry appeared to have recovered from the worst of the recession.

Indeed, luxury and niche producers, like Jaguar/Land Rover - which is now the sector's biggest employer, mainly because of sales of the all-terrain vehicles derided as "Chelsea tractors" - and BMW/Mini are doing extremely well. However, continued recession and the impact of austerity means a drop in demand for cheaper "mid-market" models, especially in Europe.

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey

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Director: Lelia Doolan

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey is one of the most important political figures to have emerged from the late 1960s. This documentary shows why. Just imagine footage of your local MP using a megaphone to coordinate the building of barricades, or the same MP helping to break up paving slabs to be used as ammunition against armed police.

Feeling the squeeze: Workers' living standards in the economic crisis

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Working class living standards are being seriously hit as the economic crisis worsens. As inflation rises and wage repression continues, households' real disposable income is falling. Laura Cooke and Kevin Devine unpick the latest statistics that show the scale of the squeeze

For the first time in over 30 years the real disposable income of British households is falling, and the degree to which this is happening is increasing as inflation continues to climb. The Office for National Statistics reports that real incomes fell by 0.8 percent in 2010, which is the highest fall in real disposable incomes since 1977. In the first quarter of 2011 it reports incomes fell by 2.7 percent, over three times this amount, confirming that money pressures are growing.

Classic Read: Our new series will revisit a classic novel each month

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James Plunkett

First published in 1969

The year is 1913. "In Dublin Larkin flung his terrible phrase at the employers. "You'll crucify Christ no longer in this town.' The streets were shaking with the sound of his voice, the burden bearers were straightening their backs. They were multitude. There would be no escape from them."

Hutton's pension heist

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Much of the coverage of John Hutton's proposals for what amounts to a major attack on public sector pensions concentrates (rightly) on the planned changes and their likely impact on workers. But little light has been shed on what Hutton and the government are trying to achieve.

This is an important omission, because the proposed changes, especially the plans for increased employee contributions, represent an attempt to shift much of the cost of providing pensions from the Exchequer to public sector workers.

The governor and Kenn Dodd

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When the governor of the Bank of England starts quoting madcap 1970s comic Ken Dodd it must be a sign that things are not quite right, economically-speaking.

But that's precisely what Mervyn King did in a speech to business leaders in Newcastle on 25 January. The Dodd quote (about happiness, predictably enough) was rather less important, though, than the rest of what he had to say, which was centred on an examination of why the cost of living has risen and how this has affected people's incomes.

The cost of living through austerity

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The economic recovery remains elusive, but the cost of living remains high and looks set to go even higher in 2011.

Rising energy bills, higher rail fares, increases in rents (if many councils get their way) and the hike in VAT to 20 percent this month are all likely to combine and force the various measures of inflation upwards this year.

The Meaning of David Cameron

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Richard Seymour, Zero Books, £6.99

This short, provocative and timely book by the left wing journalist behind the Lenin's Tomb blog brilliantly deconstructs the Tories' attempts at repackaging. Seymour shows how the Tories, in a similar way to New Labour, have captured terms like "progressive", and even "radical", for what is essentially a right wing, neoliberal agenda.

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