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Defeat Unite’s sabotage of London bus strikes! Vote NO to sellout pay deal at Metroline!

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Unite the union cancelled three days of strikes by London bus drivers at Metroline garages on Wednesday, provoking widespread anger. The strikes were cancelled based on a below-inflation pay deal hatched by Unite and company officials at conciliation service ACAS.Unite’s intervention is a gift to Metroline, owned by transport giant ComfortDelGro. It is outright sabotage against coordinated strikes by Metroline and Abellio drivers planned on December 1, 2 and 3. The union-company deal is being put to drivers at Metroline in a ballot Friday, while Abellio drivers are being left to fight alone. Unite Regional Organiser Laura Johnson announced the suspension of strikes in a joint letter with Metroline CEO Sean O’Shea late Wednesday afternoon—just hours before strikes were set to begin. Their announcement, published on Unite letterhead, declared, “we are pleased that we have reached an agreement that will be recommended at all garages”. Johnson and O’Shea informed drivers, “The headlines for this offer are an 11% increase on all rates of pay, with 10% back pay, with more details to follow.” They withheld further information, cancelling a Unite members Zoom meeting scheduled for Wednesday night.Joint message from Unite Regional Officer Laura Johnson and Metroline CEO Sean O’Shea [Photo by Screenshot]On Thursday, details of the pay-deal were circulated in a letter sent by Metroline’s CEO to Johnson. It makes clear that Unite is recommending a major attack on drivers’ pay and conditions.Metroline’s revised pay offer of 11 percent, and reduced backpay of 10 percent means Unite cancelled strikes based on an overall “uplift” of just 10.25 percent—a 0.25 percent improvement on the offer drivers rejected only last month. In November, drivers voted down an offer of 9 percent backdated and 10 percent from settlement date. Unite’s deal with Metroline is a real-terms pay cut, with RPI inflation running at 14.2 percent. On top of this, Unite agreed to move the pay anniversary date forward, with drivers estimating they will lose anywhere between £600 and £1,000, depending on their grade.Unite’s deal further entrenches pay inequality, rejecting drivers’ demand for the abolition of lower pay grades for doing the same job. A new grade with a measly uplift to £17.22 (Monday-Friday) is introduced for drivers in their third year of service, but only if they agree to relinquish progression to higher grade 5 rates in future years. The new grade will apply automatically to drivers at year three, “unless they submit an opt-out”, a sneaky way of phasing out grade 5.Finally, attention should be drawn to Unite’s shameless recommendation of death-in-service benefits capped at £30,000. By July 8, 2020, Metroline accounted for the majority of London bus fatalities from COVID-19—12 bus workers—nearly double that of the next highest number of deaths (7) at Go-Ahead, according to information obtained under Freedom of Information.When bus driver David O’Sullivan blew the whistle over the spread of infections at Cricklewood garage and called for urgent safety measures to protect lives, Metroline sacked him with Unite’s backing. Unite’s support for a death-in-service payment capped at £30,000 amounts to a license for Metroline to continue its callous work practices in relation to COVID-19, extreme driver fatigue, and ongoing issues with vehicle maintenance and safety. At a Unite Zoom meeting reconvened on Thursday night as a “report back” to members, Johnson did not even bother to show up. She represents an unaccountable bureaucracy that is happy to do deals at workers expense, leaving local reps and convenor Donald Palmer to face angry members. Drivers attacked the deal and demanded to know which reps voted for it. Palmer claimed the information was “confidential”.Unite’s self-declared “activists”, including former bus driver Kevin Mustafa and former Unite rep and convenor Stephen O’Rourke, have claimed the fault lies with local reps and the Metroline convenor, while shielding the real authors in Unite’s national leadership, above all General Secretary Sharon Graham.After six months in which Graham has presided over below-inflation pay deals across London—at Arriva London North, Arriva London South, RATP and Go Ahead—Mustafa once again appealed to drivers yesterday to contact “Sharon” and let her know about the rotten deal—as if the general secretary is somehow in the dark over the actions of her own union in a major London transport dispute!The London Bus Rank-and-File Committee urges Metroline drivers to deliver a resounding NO in Friday’s ballot. Unite’s latest actions in pushing a pro-company deal and sabotaging joint industrial action with Abellio drivers shows that workers must take control. Join us in forming rank-and-file strike committees at every garage to draw up a plan for unified strike action and a log of claims, including for an inflation-busting pay rise and urgently needed improvements to terms and conditions to win support from transport workers across London and beyond.Unite says Metroline “cannot afford” an above-inflation pay rise. The London Bus Rank-and-File Committee rejects all such claims. ComfortDelGro posted a 30.4 percent increase in net profit to £71.51 million for the first half of 2022. The company employs 24,000 workers worldwide and last month won new bus contracts in Australia worth A$1.6 billion. The needs of workers who operate the transport system must take priority over corporate and shareholder profit.Sign up for the WSWS email newsletter

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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