Sharon speaks during the Queen's speech debate, 2021.
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Queen's Speech Debate, 2021
Sharon speaks during the Queen's speech debate, 2021.Watch on twitter >Watch of FaceBook > Read more
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
Last week, a parliamentary session lasting over sixteen months ended. The State Opening of a new session will take place next Tuesday, where, following a centuries old tradition, the Queen will visit Parliament and read out a list of the Conservative Government’s priorities for the year ahead.
The first test for the Conservatives in this Queen’s Speech will be to commit once more to securing jobs and backing our local businesses, helping people across the North East, rather than lining the pockets of their mates with dodgy contracts worth millions of pounds.
In Government, Labour would work with private enterprise to create the next generation of high-skilled jobs, and get people into work, training or education, while ensuring the protection of public sector jobs. Labour’s priority is to see jobs protected by holding the Tories to account and by working hard locally to support businesses, trade unions and employees.
We know that the easing of restrictions will help us see many people return to work. But many will not. This Queen’s Speech follows a national report by Green Alliance which shows Washington and Sunderland West has the highest Labour Market Challenge Score (the greatest combination of pre- and post-pandemic unemployment), scoring 239, compared with the national average of 100. This shows that Washington and Sunderland West will have the highest employment challenge nationwide post-pandemic.
It is clear that it will take our community a long time to rebuild; and it is only the Labour Party whose priorities lie firmly with rebuilding our communities and securing the future of our jobs.
Ten years of Conservative austerity cuts have left our councils cash-strapped, while pay for key workers has decreased in real terms. The pandemic only exacerbated the deep-rooted inequalities already present, while favours were provided for those who have ministers in their Whatsapp contacts.
There’s no reason we can’t have job security, more opportunities, high streets we are proud of, and public services that put people first: the Government just has to prioritise them.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind readers to use their vote today in our local elections for Councillors and the Police and Crime Commissioner. Our council has worked hard to ensure that this can be done in Covid-safe manner. Results should be known by midday Friday.
ECHO COLUMN: The Government must prioritise jobs and public services
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website Last week, a parliamentary session lasting over sixteen months ended. The State Opening of a...
Transport Questions: What assessment he has made of the potential merits of the full reopening of the Leamside line. - 29th April, 2021
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Following her PMQ in December 2020, Sharon once again called on the Government to use the upcoming Queen's Speech to ban fire and rehire practices.
You can read Sharon's speech below or on Hansard. You can also watch Sharon's speech here.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mrs Murray. I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) on securing her first Westminster Hall debate on such an important subject and her excellent speech. It is also a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery).
I first raised fire and rehire with the Prime Minister on 16 December 2020 at Prime Minister’s Question Time, after highly skilled engineers at Centrica British Gas were told they had to sign new contracts before Christmas or else they would be fired and rehired in the new year on worse terms. The Prime Minister’s response was deeply concerning:
“it is also vital that we have a flexible economy that is able to generate jobs, particularly when we are going to go through a very difficult and bumpy time.”—[Official Report, 16 December 2020; Vol. 686, c. 272.]
During this “very difficult and bumpy time”, as the Prime Minister put it, is exactly when people need stability and certainty in their lives. Yet according to Unite the Union, one in 10 workers is already threatened with fire and rehire, and many more are likely to face this manipulative process as furlough comes to an end.
Earlier this month, I was saddened to see approximately 350 British Gas engineers lose their jobs because they refused to sign a contract with worse terms and pay. Equally sad is the thousands upon thousands of other GMB members at British Gas signing new but worse contracts under duress. Yet when my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Kim Johnson) raised it with the Prime Minister just last week, he was not even aware of the issue. Four months on from my question, hundreds have been sacked and the Prime Minister still does not have an answer.
It is not just British Gas engineers either; fire and rehire is also used by British Airways in Heathrow, and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) will go into further detail on those disputes. Go North West drivers have been on strike for more than 50 days, while Jacobs Douwe Egberts coffee producers is starting an indefinite overtime ban on International Workers Day, 1 May, and engineers at Brush Electrical Machines are balloting for action against pay cuts of up to £15,000.
Fire and rehire is an exploitative and illegitimate negotiation tactic that causes real hurt and anger. Household names have betrayed decades of trust from the nation. These tactics damage not only their workforces but their customer base, who will feel the same way at the disgraceful way those businesses treat their employees. The Government have an opportunity with the upcoming Queen’s Speech to work with Labour and the relevant trade unions such as Unite and the GMB to introduce vital legislation that will ban fire and rehire practices and give workers the stability and assurances that they need at this—again in the Prime Minister’s own words—“very difficult and bumpy time”.
Fire and Rehire Westminster Hall debate 27.04.21
Following her PMQ in December 2020, Sharon once again called on the Government to use the upcoming Queen's Speech to ban fire and rehire practices. You can read Sharon's speech below...
Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Veterans, has today (Tuesday 20th April) hosted a virtual roundtable on veterans’ employment in the North East.
The roundtable, which was also attended by Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, John Healey MP, was the first of a series of events by the Labour Defence Team in the region.
The roundtable was also attended by Labour’s candidate in the Hartlepool by-election, Dr Paul Williams, local Labour Party Armed Forces Champions in the region and University of Sunderland and SHAID St Peter’s Court as recipients of the Gold Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
During the event, veterans and former clients of Project Nova* and Sporting Force spoke about their experiences of leaving the military and finding employment and training.
Participants in the roundtable heard about the impact Covid has had on the job market and how crucial charities have been, especially in the last year, in supporting veterans into training, employment, housing and getting mental health support.
It is estimated that 84% of service leavers who used the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) in 2019/20 were employed within six months of leaving the Armed Forces.
But the roundtable also heard that on some occasions it might be years after leaving the military before a veteran presents at a charity or local service for support on getting training or employment.
The Armed Forces Bill, which will put some of the Armed Forces Covenant into law, is making its way through Parliament.
The Bill will put commitments made in the Covenant on health, housing and education into law, but the Bill currently omits employment.
Labour is backing our veterans by calling on all remits of the Covenant to be put into law.
John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence said:
“Our Forces Personnel go above and beyond to protect us and it is only right that when they leave service and transition back into civilian life, they are given the support they need. That is why we must reinforce the Armed Forces Covenant so no veteran is disadvantaged by their service.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Veterans said:
“Veterans’ employment is one of the key issues missing from the Government’s plan to put some of the Armed Forces Covenant into law.
“That’s why Labour is shining a light on how important veterans’ employment is not only to the veterans, but to the workplace too in the unique skills and experiences they offer.
”The Government should back Labour’s calls to put all aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant, including employment, into law via the Armed Forces Bill.”
Alistair Halliday, Chief Executive of RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity said:
“Regardless of age, years of service, rank or specialisation, people who have served in the Armed Forces possess fine qualities, such as self-motivation; a ‘can-do’ attitude, great team skills, a ready sense of humour, coupled with a desire to do their best and help others, which makes veterans a brilliant addition to the civilian workforce. However, those who have served in the Military often have limited experience of applying for civilian jobs and can find it difficult translating their relevant Services experience to meet non-Military job descriptions, putting them at a disadvantage. This event was an excellent opportunity to highlight the value and relevance of ex-Forces personnel to politicians and civilian employers alike.”
Tommy Lowther, Founder and CEO of Sporting Force said:
“It was a pleasure to join the Labour Party’s roundtable on veterans’ employment and showcase the work of Sporting Force here in the North East but also across the country.
“Veterans sometimes require additional support and Sporting Force offers that in abundance. We provide employment opportunities within the sports sector as well as lots of different adventure training activities to help tackle social isolation among the veteran community.”
Notes to editors
• *Project Nova, delivered in partnership between RFEA and Walking With The Wounded, is there to offer help to those who have been arrested and enter Police Custody. It also supports Veterans who are referred by specialist Police teams, or other statutory organisations, because they are at risk of arrest. The scheme was launched in 2014 and currently operates across South Yorkshire and Humberside, the North East, North West, Midlands, South West and East of England.
• About RFEA: RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity – exists to provide life-long, life-changing support, job opportunities, and training to service leavers, reservists, veterans and their families, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service, or reason for leaving. Founded in 1885 and operating across the UK, we have the specialist knowledge and understanding to bridge the gap between military life and civilian employment. We work in partnership with other organisations and employers who, like us, respect and value the unique qualities and abilities of all those who have served. www.rfea.org.uk; www.twitter.com/RFEA_UK; www.facebook.com/RFEATheForcesEmploymentCharity/
• About Sporting Force: Sporting Force provides support to ex-service personnel, offering a route into civilian employment within the professional sports industry. Sporting Force help veterans and their families by offering education, exercise and social events to help relieve mental health and social isolation. All the opportunities Sporting Force offer are inclusive and can be adapted to meet the needs of disabled veterans. https://www.sportingforce.org/; https://twitter.com/sportingforce; https://www.facebook.com/sportingforce
Sharon backs region's veterans with virtual roundtable
Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Veterans, has today (Tuesday 20th April) hosted a virtual roundtable on veterans’ employment in the North East. The roundtable, which was also attended by...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2021 number 138
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2021 number 138
Sharon Hodgson MPs report - Mar-Apr 2021 number 138
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2021 number 138 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2021 number 138 Read more
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
Disagreement is at the heart of human experience, just as the right to protest is at the heart of our democracy.
Sometimes disagreement is good; it can force a rethink, a compromise, a better outcome.
But the Government are eroding that right to disagree and protest.
Last week the Conservative Government brought the “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill” before Parliament.
The best measures in the Bill come from campaigns by Labour MPs, such as my colleague Sarah Champion’s work on sexual abuse by people in positions of trust. But as the Government have made the Bill wide in scope, any opposition to some parts of the Bill – such as harsher penalties for damaging a statue than for attacking a woman – can be portrayed by the Conservatives as opposition to all parts of the Bill. This isn’t the case.
What is the case is the Government rushing through poorly thought-out measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to protest.
The Bill hides, in its haystack of legislation, a very sharp needle – the criminalisation of protests that cause ‘serious annoyance’.
‘Serious annoyance’, like when the kettle trips the fuse and you have to turn the electricity back on.
Let’s put it in some perspective.
Did Sam Brown, one of the two hundred who marched from Jarrow to London in 1936 because they had no work, do enough to cause ‘serious annoyance’?
Should Brown’s peaceful request of a better future have found him behind bars?
Picture: Courtesy of South Tyneside Libraries >
The Government want to criminalise those who disagree with them because they cannot stand to be criticised.
But history links our national identity to the right to protest. The right has its roots in medieval Britain, from Magna Carta, and runs through the Peasants Revolt and the women’s suffrage movement.
I strongly condemn the violence against the police that we saw in Bristol over the weekend, but our right to peaceful protest must be preserved.
If we are to maintain a healthy democracy, then we must be cautious of any Government move to hinder our right to protest and oppose.
ECHO COLUMN: Our right to act in peaceful protest must be preserved
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website Disagreement is at the heart of human experience, just as the right to protest is at...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2021 number 137
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2021 number 137
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2021 number 137
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2021 number 137 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2021 number 137 Read more
You can view Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below, or on the Sunderland Echo website.
You would think that jobs for the boys would be a thing of the past, but the Conservative Party have gone one step further and used the Coronavirus pandemic as a business opportunity to further line the pockets of their mates.
The Conservative Government have handed out almost £2 billion worth of taxpayers money for Covid contracts to friends and donors.
The most baffling of all being the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock’s former neighbour and pub landlord, supplying the Government with Covid-19 test parts, despite having no previous medical experience. The firm is now being investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The High Court ruled last month that the Health Secretary had acted unlawfully on transparency and failed to publish contracts on time.
But Matt Hancock has been quick to shrug this ruling off. Not only has he declared there was no foul play, he’s also tried to re-write history.
It isn’t even a year since we saw frontline workers on the news every day saying they were scared to go to work because they didn’t have the correct PPE. We saw images of our nurses and doctors using bin bags to protect themselves and issuing emotional pleas and warnings to the Government.
In response, the Government paid a pest control firm £59 million for 25 million facemasks, a hedge fund based in Mauritius £252 million for facemasks and paid a jeweller in Florida £70 million for gowns. None of these could be used.
Matt Hancock doesn’t remember that awful and desperate time and is keen that you forget about it too, but out of respect for our keyworkers on the frontline and the hundreds of NHS staff who died, we must ensure that we don’t forget or allow them to re-write history.
The Government must wind down its emergency procurement powers, reintroduce competitive tender and claw back the money on contracts that haven’t delivered.
In Government, Labour is committed to making the UK a world leader in transparency again by introducing an Independent Anti-Corruption Commissioner.
Contracts for cronies will be a thing of the past under a Labour Government.
ECHO COLUMN: The Government must bring back competitive tendering
You can view Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below, or on the Sunderland Echo website. You would think that jobs for the boys would be a thing of the past,...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan-Feb 2021 no 136
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan-Feb 2021 no 136 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan-Feb 2021 no 136 Read more