Earlier today, the LabourList site published an ‘exclusive comment piece’ – and a comment piece on the comment piece – claiming that Labour employees are on insecure contracts, sometimes have to use foodbanks or payday lenders and are sometimes asked to work overtime at short notice.
In the follow-up comment piece, LabourList editor Sienna Rodgers said:
Although Labour says its workplace is unionised and the party recognises Unite and the GMB for collective bargaining purposes, LabourList understands that employees have been involved in a protracted dispute with management that is yet to be resolved.
The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot tweeted about the ‘really powerful piece’ – but even a cursory fact-check portrays a very different story.
The article notes that Labour had responded that it pays its staff no less than £10 an hour and has no zero hour contracts – and an update shows that general secretary Jennie Formby tweeted similarly:
One of my first acts as GS was to increase our call centre worker wages to £10 ph. Labour employees have full union recognition and collective bargaining through @GMB and @unitetheunion. As a lifelong trade unionist I will always listen and respond to employees’ concerns https://t.co/YsBwjGRfBf
— Jennie Formby (@JennieGenSec) October 9, 2018
However, the SKWAWKBOX has received further information from a senior Labour source that not only casts doubt on the truthfulness of the original comment piece but casts it as a politically-motivated hatchet-job.
The source told the SKWAWKBOX:
We have no zero hours contracts and after Jennie started as general secretary in April she gave everyone a pay-rise from the national minimum wage to £10 an hour, effective from 1 May – and staff will get another pay-rise in January when the trade unions negotiate their annual increase.
Of course we have some people on flexible contracts – it’s the nature of political work. But if you’re on a 12-hour contract are we supposed to put them all up to 34 hours?
But the main point is that no member of staff has raised these issues with us, nor have either of the unions.
It’s simple – if you have a grievance, take it up through your union and we’ll talk to you. I suspect there’s a political motivation behind the story and LabourList didn’t bother to put anything from us in the first article rebutting what is alleged.
LabourList’s editor, Sienna Rodgers, has been contacted for comment and asked whether the original comment-piece was fact-checked. She has not yet responded.
Conference season has been relatively quiet in terms of smears on the Labour Party – especially after the SKWAWKBOX exposed planned disruption of Labour’s conference well before it could be carried out – but today has seen two new, separate and equally ill-founded attacks by the Labour right given credence by the media.
First, an attack on the vital unity between members and unions, in the form of an hit-piece on Chris Williamson in the Huffington Post – and then in these easily-disproven attacks on the Labour Party as an employer.
Normal service has been resumed – but as usual the misrepresentations don’t stand up to scrutiny.
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