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BBC QT: Matt Hancock sheepishly admits statutory sick pay is NOT ENOUGH to live on | UK | News


In an impassioned plea on the panel TUC Chief, Frances O’Grady urged the government to consider not just to focus on bailing out CEO’s, but all workers. Ms O’Grady then brought up the fact that the current statuary sick pay amount is disproportional to the costs of living when a person is unable to work through ill-health.

She said: “We don’t just bail out the boardrooms, we’ve got to bail out workers.

“Statutory sick pay, £94 pounds a week, Matt, I think you would be the first one to say, that you couldn’t live on that, I don’t think any of us could.”

This statement appeared to catch Matt Hancock off guard, as he blurted out: “No.”

Fiona Bruce hit back: “But you expect others to live on it?”

Mr Hancock replied: “No, I think we’ve got to support everybody, I think we’ve got to support businesses to help support their staff, we want businesses to support their staff, the best thing is if people stay in employment.”

“This is a once in a century event,” he added

The QT host retorted: “We know that, but the prime minister said today, businesses keep your employees on, support them, as we’re going to support you.

READ MORE: Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson makes URGENT plea to former NHS workers

“ We all need to come together to support each other as a country.

“The only organisation that is big enough to do that in the magnitude of this calamity is the government, so absolutely we’re going to come to the aid of businesses as fast as we can. so that businesses can keep their staff on.”

Fiona interjected the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by pointing out that chef Angela Hartnett on the panel had already had to let go of her staff.

She said: “Angela’s already let hers go.”

Mr Hancock: “No, she’s actually kept them on, although unpaid for now, so we need to come to Angela’s aid, because when this is over.

“I want Angela able to open her restaurants again. “

“We’ve got to look after people, we’ve got to look after businesses, as well as fight the disease.”

“We’ve got to use the whole resources of the state to do this.” He confirmed.



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Peers hand themselves an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent pay rise hiking their daily tax-free pay to £323 – The Sun


PEERS are handing themselves an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent pay rise in April — hiking their daily, tax-free pay to £323.

The move comes after the House of Lords decided to link allowances to MPs’ pay increases.

 Peers have handed themselves an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent pay rise, which will hike their daily tax-free pay to £323

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Peers have handed themselves an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent pay rise, which will hike their daily tax-free pay to £323Credit: AP:Associated Press

But in contrast to MPs, peers do not pay income tax or National Insurance.

Critics also point out that MPs’ pay is linked to average weekly earnings in the public sector.

Peers receive expenses on top of the allowance for every time they are in the upper chamber.

The House of Lords is due to sit for around 150 days this year, so peers could get nearly £50,000.

With inflation at 1.4 per cent, TaxPayers’ Alliance boss John O’Connell said: “This looks like a plum deal for the Peers but a rum deal for the taxpayer.

“These allowances are meant to cover costs of working in Westminster to make sure the best can serve, not to offer the Lords and Ladies a large tax-free increase.”

But a Lords spokesman said: “Between 2010 and 2018, the daily allowance was frozen.

“In the last decade, the House of Lords daily allowance has increased by 4.3 per cent.

“In that same period, the salaries of MPs went up by more than 20 per cent.”

The Sun Says

WE didn’t think the Lords could do any more harm to their shattered reputation — but the grasping duffers have found a way.

The unelected chamber was already on thin ice before peers spent three years shamefully trying to overturn Brexit while pocketing £313 a day tax-free.

And you might think that, with their public standing now shredded, they would have the decency to freeze that rate.

Especially with inflation at only 1.4 per cent. But no.

They’ve voted themselves an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent instead — so they’ll now get £323 just for showing up.

A few Lords and Ladies have experience and ability, we admit.

The rest shuffle in for the warmth and the cash.

The truth is the House of Lords is an antiquated insult to our democracy, a dumping ground for political failures and discredited cronies, where almost no one is too odious . . . though it still draws the line at Bercow, obviously.

A courageous Government with a big majority would take it on and reinvent it as a mainly elected second chamber — with a small handful of unelected peers chosen for specific expertise.

How about it, Boris?

Former Speaker John Bercow explains ‘conspiracy’ to block him from House of Lords







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Brexit news: Labour Leavers pay biggest price of Corbyn’s failure on Brexit day | UK | News


With or without a bong, Britain finally leaves the Brussels bloc today and sails the seas of a new adventure outside the European Union as a truly free and independent nation. The Brexit battle fought by the Tories in the last four years against the ever-demanding team in Brussels and Remainer MPs unwilling to accept their defeat in the UK Parliament, has finally paid off for the nation. The biggest price of Britons’ decision to leave the EU will be paid by those who voted for their own fate in the 2016 referendum, a bitter Remainer would say. And Brexiteers will endlessly work to debunk the argument going forward, proving Brexit Britain has been well worth the struggling fight. One thing is already certain, though. The Labour Party’s inability to engage with its own voters and the rest of the country on the most important issue in a generation has cost them the biggest electoral defeat of a lifetime.

Labour was catastrophically defeated in the December 2019 election against Boris Johnson.

Yet, the outgoing leadership is still failing to admit it was its Brexit policy to campaign for a second referendum that cost them the result.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, now in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn in April, is adamant the reason Labour lost the December election is in the delivery of all the “radical” policies the party had drafted for the country.

But pro-Brexit Labour MPs who lost their seats in December pinpoint the devastating loss on Sir Keir Starmer’s masterminded proposal of a second EU vote.

And even the most prominent figures of the Labour Party who have been battling to take the UK out of the EU since 1975 now admit Labour has put himself on the wrong side of the Brexit argument for decades.

Former Chair of Labour Leave John Mills admitted the Labour Party has never been “in the best position in either camp” when both fighting for Britain to leave the EU in 1975 and siding with its Remain supporters in 2019.

READ MORE: Brexit shock: Keir Starmer vows to bring back freedom of movement

brexit news labour party jeremy corbyn brexit day labour leave tony benn

Brexit news: Jeremy Corbyn failed to stand his ground on Brexit and lost (Image: GETTY)

Both times, Labour lost and the Tories won.

During the 2016 referendum campaign, Labour Leavers would promptly bring former Labour Chairman Tony Benn’s anti-EU speeches to light to prove their true, core belief lied in a Britain freed by Brussels shackles.

And standing side-by-side the same “father of Brexit”, as some of them branded Mr Benn, was no one else but Jeremy Corbyn himself.

The Islington MP, who ran as a candidate for deputy leader to Tony Benn in 1981 before even becoming a Member of Parliament, stood on platforms across the country to fight the Brexit battle before any eurosceptics in the Conservative Party even had a say in the matter.

But given the opportunity to become Labour leader in 2015, the same man failed to stand his own ground and pretended to support the complete opposite of what he had preached for decades just to please an ever-excited new band of members who so badly wanted to remain EU citizens.

“One of the things about 1975 was that about 80 percent of the Tory Party voters voted to Remain, whereas most of the Leave support camp came from the left,” John Mills told Express.co.uk.

“Now that’s the other way around. Certainly, in Parliament and among the Labour Party membership, there’s much more of a Remain campaign now than there is a Leave campaign.

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Labour Party politician and Chairman of the Labour Party, Tony Benn (1925-2014) (Image: GETTY)

labour party jeremy corbyn tony benn 1992 blackpool

Anthony Wedgwood Benn (1925 – 2014, right) and Jeremy Corbyn (centre) at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, UK, 1992 (Image: GETTY)

“It’s the other way for the Conservatives, so there has been a big swing around.”

He added: “I don’t think that the issue of the EU was the only reason behind the election result in 2019.

“But I think it was a very important factor and I do think that so many people voted Conservatives did so because they disagreed with Labour’s stance on the EU and for the fact that the party was becoming too much metropolitan, too London-orientated, too Remain, too much the party of the middle class and the public sector and so on.

“When you run an election on that basis you need to have your large number of industrial and traditional Labour voters campaign behind you as well.

“And that’s what didn’t happen.”

The businessman and economist admitted his own core group of Labour Leavers could not win against the Conservatives’ clear message of “taking back control” and “get Brexit done” with their ideological fight against capitalism and ever-growing support for Remain in their core metropolitan elites.

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He said: “People always had different reasons for wanting to leave the European Union.

“Why did people vote to leave the EU and particularly working-class people, I don’t think it’s entirely because of problems of capitalism.

“I think it was much more because they wanted to have control of their own lives, they thought the EU was too much of an elitist organisation.”

He added: “We’ve had a situation where MPs have very strongly been Remain, most Labour MPs and most Labour Party members have been really strongly Remain as well – probably 80 percent of the members.

“But when it came to Labour voters the situation was very, very different.

“Of all the people that voted Labour for the last few decades, about half of them probably were on the Leave camp.

“I think what we’ve done is to keep alive a handful of Labour Leave people which was quite important for the referendum result.”

brexit news labour party lord glasman labour leave

Brexit news: Labour Leave member Lord Glasman (Image: EXPRESS)

One of those Labour Leave people is Labour peer Lord Glasman. A staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour eurosceptic told Express.co.uk in April 2019 that his party needed to present Britons with the “socialist opportunities of Brexit” to contrast the Conservatives’ “globalised capitalism” possibilities of trading with other nations outside of the EU.

He said: “A third or maybe half of the Labour manifesto could not be implemented if we stay in the EU.

“Workers could not be given first choice about buying a company because they would violate EU competition laws.

“We couldn’t have nationalisation, we couldn’t have an industrial strategy, we couldn’t have a pro-worker movement.

“And it’s also the case that every country where the socialist Labour parties have supported the EU, their support died and they no longer exist.

“So Labour has to work this out. What I’m saying is that Corbyn represents, and many of us in Labour represent, the democratic and socialist possibilities of Brexit.

“And you can’t have that without democratic sovereignty.”

brexit news labour party jeremy corbyn general election 2019

Brexit news: Jeremy Corbyn lost 60 seats for the Labour Party at the December 2019 election (Image: GETTY)

Adding: “The politics that is to come will be a Conservative vision of globalised capitalism, and a Labour vision of a democratic nation that could make its own decisions.

“And that should be a split between Labour and Conservative, but as it stands, this whole debate about the EU is getting in the way of what has to come.”

And what did come only a few months later was exactly that. A Labour manifesto full of “radical” socialist proposals that just did not convince the nation.

The Labour Party manifesto included plans for the re-nationalisation of rail, water and energy as well as a tax increase for the highest earners in the country.

Ahead of the election, Jeremy Corbyn also pledged to compensate WASPI women who lost money due to delayed retirement with a £58bn war chest.

The policies Mr Corbyn put forward however failed to convince voters and caused the party to lose 60 seats, including in northern heartlands where Brexit dissatisfaction pushed some Britons to back pro-Leave Tories.

Now all the Leavers in the red party are left with, is the bitter victory of leaving the dreadful EU bloc at the expensive cost of the possible final days of their own party.



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This Amazon gig platform can pay pennies a task. Why are Canadians using it?


From the privacy of her own home, Kristy Milland has taught smart cars to dodge children, trained drones to fire at humans and tagged graphic videos made by terrorist groups — all through tech giant Amazon’s “crowdsourcing marketplace.”

At its best, Amazon Mechanical Turk is a low-barrier source of income that lets you earn from your living room. At its worst, it’s a penny-paying platform fuelled by a workforce with little protection against poor compensation, wage theft or trauma on the job.

Since the time Milland began working through MTurk 15 years ago, the platform’s pool of workers has grown to an estimated 100,000 individuals. It’s an increasingly important tool for everyone from tech giants to academic institutions — including Canadian universities.

“It’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because, okay, here’s an opportunity for (workers) to work in a way that is not illegal, that is not impossible, that is not physically demanding,” Milland says.

“Yet at the same time that allows requesters to say, well, then we can exploit them.”

Like its growing field of competitors, MTurk connects employers to a disparate pool of digital workers, nicknamed Turkers, who are paid to perform online “micro-tasks.” The gigs, called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), include everything from tagging photos to completing surveys. Requesters set the pay rate they see fit; the majority pay under a dime, a minority can earn you a few dollars. Some may take seconds to complete, others over an hour.

The common thread: humans are still better at performing these tasks than machines. The platform derives its name from an 18th century chess-playing “machine” that was later revealed to be a hoax; the device was in fact being operated by a human.

For academic researchers, MTurk provides easy access to “participant pools” that allow them to conduct surveys. Ethically, researchers can’t coerce participants into joining a research study; compensation of some form is common, but guidelines on what constitutes fair, ethical payment vary. (For example, a general study of health research practices conducted last year by the Toronto-based Wellesley Institute found that the median hourly amount provided to participants was $25.)

Milland, who is now a law student at the University of Toronto, co-authored a report in 2017 with the University of Oxford, Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University that analyzed millions of tasks and found that Turkers earned a median hourly wage of about $2.35 (Canadian).

Amazon did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.

Like most in the gig economy, Turkers are independent contractors and therefore excluded from employment protections — including minimum-wage standards.

Milland’s own experience with the platform is mixed. It became a significant source of income for her family around 2010 when her husband lost his job. At that time, it was fairly lucrative; using scripts — tools that help perform MTurk work faster — Milland says she was able to pull in around $66,000 a year.

Crowdwork can also be an opportunity for workers who face discrimination in the job market or have physical restrictions. But Milland says the platform has changed significantly in recent years. For one, programmers began creating software that scoop up the more lucrative requests, leaving only low-paid tasks for most workers.

Even as a highly experienced worker, Milland says she would now be lucky to make $20 to $30 a day.

Some of the work, she adds, can be traumatizing. She has tagged videos made by the fundamentalist Islamic State, and reviewed content that showed animals being tortured.

“It was still really bad and actually I had to stop very quickly because I couldn’t handle doing it,” she says. “For other people who don’t have that ability to get out of it they may just have to do that until they break down and can’t do it anymore. That’s horrifying.”

Much of the work on MTurk, Milland says, would in the past have been performed by contractors hired by tech companies. MTurk itself notes that it hosts gigs that have traditionally “been accomplished by hiring a large temporary workforce, which is time-consuming, expensive and difficult to scale.”

Some of the HITs posted by universities even replace tasks traditionally done by research assistants, according to Milland, such as updating citations.

“There are an abundance of people who are well-educated on the platform and able to do these tasks, and academics do leverage that,” she said.

Currently, Canadian workers represent about 2 per cent of MTurk’s overall workforce, said New York University data science professor Panos Ipeirotis.

The Star asked the University of Toronto, Ryerson, and York universities whether they tracked their academics’ usage of MTurk or have any guidelines around the use of the platform. All three institutions said researchers must abide by their employers’ research ethics standards, but none had developed MTurk-specific policies or tracked its use.

According to one site that compiles reviews and self-reported data from MTurk workers, the average hourly wage paid by one researcher who identified themselves as a University of Toronto affiliate was $9.14 — $5 below Ontario’s minimum wage. Another set of requests by an account called “University of Toronto Soc. Studies” paid almost $18 an hour. One account called “Active Vision Lab York University Canada” paid around $10 an hour.

In response to questions from the Star, a spokesperson for the University of Toronto said all research using human subjects sanctioned by the university is reviewed by the Research Ethics Board (REB).

“The REB ensures any compensation is appropriate for the time involvement,” the spokesperson said.

Janice Walls, York University’s acting director of media relations, told the Star a “fundamental principle related to participation in research is that it is voluntary.”

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“Many researchers choose to compensate participants for their time and effort, however, participation in a research study is not meant to be employment and as such compensation is not a rate of pay,” she said.

While ethics standards forbid research subjects from being coerced into participating, Milland says academic institutions are ignoring a basic reality about using MTurk.

“This is a workplace,” she says. “(Workers) are not doing it for fun.”

A 2016 study conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center found that a quarter of American workers who earn money through “online tasks” rely on the income because of a “lack of other jobs where they live.”

The Star signed up to work on MTurk using an existing Amazon account. The terms of service with the platform require workers to use their “human intelligence and independent judgment to perform tasks in a competent and workmanlike manner.” They also forbid workers from using “robots, scripts, or other automated methods” as a substitute for independent judgment.

Over the course of an hour’s work on MTurk, the Star filled out a survey about shopping habits; examined various car dealerships’ websites and extracted contact information; and analyzed academic charts to write summaries of them. This work added up to a value of $2.02, but to date only seven of 14 submissions have been approved by their requesters. One was rejected and did not receive payment. So far, the Star has earned 61 cents.

That’s not indicative of how much professional Turkers are earning: no scripts were used to speed up tasks, and as a newcomer to the site, it took time to find higher-paying HITs. The best-paying available post paid $28 to transcribe 58 minutes of audio, but it required qualifications — meaning not every Turker is eligible to complete the work.

Working through MTurk involves a significant amount of unpaid labour looking for HITs, Milland’s research shows. That, she says, “bottoms out” potential earnings. And, her study found, another source of lost income stems from MTurk requesters rejecting work that’s already been completed.

“Once a worker submits completed work, the employer can choose whether to pay for it. This discretion allows employers to reject work that does not meet their needs, but also enables wage theft,” says a 2015 study by University of California, San Diego professor Lilly Irani.

This, Irani’s study says, is possible because MTurk’s participation agreement gives employers “full intellectual property rights over submissions regardless of rejection,” meaning workers have “no legal recourse against employers who reject work and then use it anyway.” (Rejections also affect Turkers’ approval ratings and ability to access work.)

Six Silberman, an engineer and programmer who now works for the German union IG Metall, helped set up a website called Turkopticon that “helps the people in the ‘crowd’ of crowdsourcing watch out for each other.”

Silberman says, with the possible exception of California where laws around classifying workers as independent contractors are stricter, there is little argument that the contractor designation applies to Turkers. But, he adds, crowdsourcing platforms and companies who use them could do much more to ensure fairer pay rates and provide better mechanisms to resolve disputes.

“The requester is in a position to resolve some of these problems. And there are some problems that only the platform operators are in a position to solve.”

Some institutions, like the University of Waterloo and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed guidelines for researchers using MTurk. Although they don’t include a minimum pay rate, Waterloo’s guidelines note that “in the spirit of fairness,” researchers should provide compensation that is similar to tasks of “similar length and difficulty.”

Meanwhile, other responses are emerging. U.S.-based academic survey consulting company MTurk Data, for example, helps universities make requests on MTurk’s platform.

Part of the guarantee: the group will pay participants an average wage of $16 an hour.

Sara Mojtehedzadeh





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