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Archive for the ‘38 Degrees Blog Posts’ Category

Blogs by the 38 Degrees team, volunteers and members.

Zero hours: Sports Direct is upping its game

October 27th, 2014 by

Sports Direct is upping its game. They were one of the worst abusers of zero hours contracts. But pressure from 38 Degrees members has forced the retail giant to make changes so that its 20,000 zero hours staff will get the basic rights they deserve.

Thousands of us got behind 38 Degrees member Zahera – an ex-employee of Sports Direct – to take them to court over their abuse of the controversial contracts. It was a real David vs Goliath battle. But the case was so strong it didn’t even need to go before a judge.

On Friday, to avoid standing in the dock, Sports Direct signed an out of court settlement. The team of lawyers paid for by 38 Degrees members has made sure that the retail giant is now legally bound to make changes.

Zahera was told she wasn’t entitled to paid holidays or sick pay. Now, Sports Direct has to tell all of its zero hours staff that they have full holiday and sick pay rights. And they have to be totally transparent about zero hours contracts – spelling out what it means in all contracts and job ads.

The news today is only one employer changing their policies. But hopefully, this case will lift the bar for every other employer.

We’ve campaigned together on zero hours contracts for over a year now. 38 Degrees members demanded a government consultation – and won. 36,000 of us submitted responses demanding that employers be banned from forcing zero hours workers to not take other jobs. And we won. Changing the law will impact hundreds of thousands of zero hours employees.

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Rochester & Strood: People-powered MP ‘score cards’

October 27th, 2014 by

Where do the parties stand? Letting people know came top in a survey to over 5,000 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood at the start of October.

So together, 38 Degrees members are producing ‘score cards’ of where the parties stand on top local and national issues. The score cards will clearly set out the differences between the parties.

The score cards are people-powered: 38 Degrees members have decided the issues, and are pushing the candidates for answers. Here’s how we’ve done it together so far:

In the survey in October, 38 Degrees members voted on their top issues in the upcoming byelection. They also picked which tactics we should do together to push these issues to the top of the agenda. Score cards got a firm mandate.

38 Degrees members also got together at two meet-ups in Rochester to talk about the issues in more detail. One on the evening of the Conservative open primary hustings, and one the next day at the King’s Head pub on the High Street.

Rochester and Strood

The issues that came top in the survey and at the member meet-ups determined the issues to be included in the score cards.

After the issues were determined, the 38 Degrees staff team drafted some questions to put to the candidates. A Google Doc of the questions was then sent to all 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood.

38 Degrees members edited and added to the Google Doc, to make sure we were all happy with the final version of the questions.


Then on Thursday 23rd October, 38 Degrees members held a stall on Rochester High Street. Throughout the day, we heard from even more local people about the issues they care about. Residents wrote down the issues that would influence how they’d vote in the byelection.

At the stall, residents signed up to take part in 38 Degrees’ score carding campaign. This will make sure that as many local people as possible will get a chance to rank the candidates.

Rochester and Strood

Rochester and Strood

Rochester and Strood

Now, our question will be sent to the political parties standing to be the next MP, so they can clarify their positions on important policies.

38 Degrees members also took action to find out where the candidates in the Conservative party’s open primaries stood on the issues we care about. Members in Rochester and Strood sent emails that CC’d in both candidates, asking them to state their views. We could then compare them according to their answers, to help decide how we voted.

Rochester and Strood

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Rochester & Strood by-election: Day of Action

October 27th, 2014 by

On Thursday 23rd October we heard that Ed Milliband would be coming to Rochester & Strood and that the media circus would be out in full force on the High Street in Rochester. They probably would have wanted to write about the rise of UKIP, immigration and the EU.

But hundreds of 38 Degrees members said in a survey the week previously that, actually, our priorities are the NHS, tax dodging and Lodge Hill. So as the media swarmed around the politicians, we showed them that ordinary people want this by-election to be about more than the spin.

38 Degrees members held a table outside the Deaf Cat on the High Street in Rochester. Together, we spoke to passers-by, and made some eye catching posters, to show that this election is about more than party politics.

In a survey sent out to 38 Degrees members, members voted to try to push the issues we care about to the top of the agenda in the by-election. We turned up the volume on issues such as the capacity at Medway hospital, tax dodging and climate change.

Thursday was a good start, with Ed Milliband visiting – we turned the attention of the media towards local people about what they think about the election. We made sure they heard our opinions.

Together, we’re using people-power to change the agenda and make sure the media doesn’t whitewash over the things that local people really care about.

You can see more of the pictures from the day on the 38 Degrees Facebook page here.

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Recall: MP Debate

October 23rd, 2014 by

On Tuesday MPs debated whether, and under what circumstances, we should be able to sack bad apple MPs.

After thousands of us emailed our MPs and had meetings up and down the country, 74 MPs have now signed the amendments that would lead to real recall.

On Tuesday many MPs stood up and explained the importance of these amendments. They put forward convincing arguments for the need to trust voters. Zac Goldsmith MP even referenced 38 Degrees members and how we paid for and wrote the amendments that MPs are now backing. Here are some MPs expressing support:

Margaret Hodge Tweet

Caroline Lucas Tweet

Graham Stuart Tweet

Douglas Carswell Tweet

Yet still both the Government and the Labour party seemed to be dragging their heels on supporting real voter driven recall. In their summing up at the end of the debate both said they were concerned about MPs being recalled because of how they vote. It would seem that some MPs think that their judgement is better than the wishes of those that elected them. In other words; they don’t trust their voters.

In reality in order for recall to happen the majority of voters in a constituency would have to back it in a yes/no referendum. It is already used in over 40 countries – including the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and Switzerland.

The arguments that were being made against real recall on Tuesday were essentially, arguments against democracy.

It is not over yet though. MPs have been listening – and on Tuesday some of them stood up and argued for the importance of real recall. We’ve all been emailing them and talking to them, and in the week before this debate many came on-side and signed the amendments. But too many still think they can get away with not trusting their voters. We have another week to persuade them to vote the right way.

Email your MP here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/recall-where-they-stand

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What our MEPs are saying about #TTIP

October 22nd, 2014 by

38 Degrees members have been e-mailing their MEPs to get their positions on TTIP. Here are snippets of some of the replies sent in by 38 Degrees members. If an MEP isn’t listed here, it’s because they either haven’t replied, or we haven’t been sent their reply. The staff team will keep updating this when we receive responses!

You can click on any dodgy claims to see mythbusters!


“TTIP will make privatisation a ‘one way street’. This represents a real threat to the NHS and other public services. The NHS is already being torn apart by the current UK government’s damagingprivatisation agenda. Returning privatised services to the public sector will be much more difficult or even impossible under TTIP.

By including ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ provisions, TTIP will undermine the rule of law. The ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ mechanism (ISDS) establishes a parallel justice system, giving powers to private arbitration panels to award compensation to companies deemed to have suffered losses as a result of EU or national laws, with no recourse to appeal. ISDS undermines democracy and strengthens the power of private corporations.

TTIP will also lead to ‘harmonising’ of EU and US laws. This would have serious impacts on workers’ rights, environmental, animal protection and food safety standards, digital rights and financial regulation.”


“Although I am not directly involved in negotiations on this file, I can assure you that the Conservatives in the European Parliament are keeping a keen eye on developments in order to ensure that the final deal is in the best interests of the UK. There are many reasons why a comprehensive trade deal between the EU and the USA will benefit us.  The EU and the US are each other’s main trading partners and already enjoy the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. Transatlantic trade flows (goods and services trade plus earnings and payments on investment) averaged $4 billion each day through the first three quarters of 2011. In 2008 EU/US combined economies accounted for nearly 60 % of global GDP.”

“the deal could bring an extra £10bn to the UK annually, which would give a huge boost to jobs in our economy at a time when we are still suffering with the effects of the economic crisis.  That is an extra £400 to every UK household”

“It is important to me that there is nothing in this proposed agreement that would weaken environmental regulation, lead to the privatisation of the NHS or allow private companies to overturn the laws made by democratically elected governments.”

“The European Commission became aware that there was a significant lack of transparency around the negotiations, and in January of this year it decided to suspend negotiations in order to carry out a further period of public consultation. EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht stated that, due to unprecedented public interest, the EU would take more time to consult and give the public the chance to have their say. This closed in mid-July and the results are now being assessed. Further details of this can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-56_en.htm

“The Conservatives in the European Parliament support the inclusion of an ISDS chapter in the agreement, because even with developed countries with robust legal systems it provides certainty for our investors, including small and medium businesses, not just large multinationals. However, this clause’s inclusion will be subject to certain conditions.  Firstly, we must not allow for frivolous claims by companies against governments. Rest assured that this is not a mechanism that will allow for fundamental laws of the EU to be overturned by a foreign company.”


“As Labour MEPs, we have made it clear that we will oppose any deal that endangers the NHS or  would prevent a future Labour government from bringing the NHS back into public administration. On this matter, the current UK government can easily obtain the exclusion of the NHS from any future deal, and we must keep pressing it to do so.  We will also not support any deal that in any way limits the sovereignty of the British people and the autonomy of its elected representatives, in particular through flawed ISDS mechanisms.”


“With regards to the NHS, there is a very clear position that the trade deal will not impact on national decision making regarding any public service. The NHS is therefore not put at risk by TTIP. I also recommend reading the letter sent from EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero to the Rt Hon John Healey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on TTIP. This can be found here: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/july/tradoc_152665.pdf


“The purpose of TTIP is to remove as many unnecessary barriers as possible to trade between the EU and the USA.  A successful agreement could add £10 billion to our economy every year, benefitting an average family of four by an extra £400 per year.”

TTIP will NOT lower our food standards. It is not true that TTIP will allow genetically modified foods and hormone beef from the US to enter our supermarkets. What is illegal here will remain illegal.

TTIP will NOT change the way the NHS is run. It will remain for the UK. Government to decide how all public services, including the NHS, are run. Access to NHS services will continue to be based on patients’ needs, not ability to pay. Local NHS commissioners will remain in charge of deciding who should provide services in the best interests of patients. It is up to each member state, not the EU or any provision in TTIP, to determine whetheror not to open up public services to competition. TTIP does NOT give businesses a carte blanche to sue the Government. The EU has made it clear that the freedom of national governments to regulate would be explicitly protected.”


“As Labour MEPs, we have made it clear that we will oppose any deal that endangers the NHS or prevent a future Labour government from bringing the NHS back into public administration. On this matter, the current UK government can easily obtain the exclusion of the NHS from any future deal, and we must keep pressing it to do so.

 We will also not support any deal that in any way limits the sovereignty of the British people and the autonomy of its elected representatives, in particular through flawed ISDS mechanisms.”


“Regarding the NHS, allowing a market into the supply of equipment and the delivery of medical services by private undertakings is not new, as most of the supplies are provided by private companies, other than clinical services.  What must remain is that it is free at the point of delivery.  Other countries in the EU also have their own medical services to protect, and I can assure you I do not know anyone whose aim is to copy the US system of health care, and therefore will not agree to this type of health service by the back door.  The UK Trade Minister, Lord Livingston has said TTIP would not have any impact on the NHS and the idea that this will lead to privatisation of the NHS is not true.”

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Rochester and Strood by-election: writing the questions for our candidates together

October 22nd, 2014 by

Hundreds of 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood have voted on what they want 38 Degrees to do during the by-election. Now they’re writing the questions to put to the candidates.

Together, 38 Degrees members are working out how to get the issues they care about to the top of the political agenda. Things like the NHS, Lodge Hill and the privatisation of public services. 

Once the questions are finalised, we can start to grill the candidates. We can get their responses and each give them marks out of ten. Then we can tell the rest of Rochester and Strood what the politicians are really saying about these big issues.

Together we’ll create a people-powered “candidate scorecard”. It will help us focus an election debate on the issues that matter. It will also help voters make informed choices.

During the European elections earlier this year, 150000 38 Degrees members helped create people-powered scorecards. Thousands of us used them to help decide their vote and shared the results by email, on facebook and twitter.

A scorecard for Rochester and Strood will help strip away the spin around the parties, and turn the spotlight on the issues we care about. Together, we could try to change the terms of the by-election debate.


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Is our NHS in Wales in crisis?

October 22nd, 2014 by

Over the last few months, stories about the state of healthcare in Wales have been bubbling up. Welsh hospitals have the worst waiting times in the UK, the care of elderly patients is poor, and people are heading to England just for treatment. These are a few of the shocking claims reported by the media.

Just last week, there were renewed calls for a public enquiry into NHS Wales. And today, there’s news that Unison’s NHS workers in Wales have voted to strike over pay. On face-value, it looks like we could be on the verge of a crisis. But is this true?

200 38 Degrees members in Wales have shared their thoughts by filling in a short survey. If you live in Wales, please could you share your thoughts too? Click here to take the survey.

So far, it’s pretty split. Many people have said that our NHS is in crisis – but haven’t had a bad experience themselves. The feeling is that this is due to lack of funding and creeping privatisation – decisions made at the top – rather than bad nurses and doctors.

38 Degrees members have picked out some particular services which are in crisis: A&E, GP surgeries, maternity, mental health and elderly care.

There’s also been a lot of love for the NHS in Wales in the comments. Cristina says “Since moving to Wales, I have received some of the best NHS care in my life. I have been promptly seen, treated with respect. I can only offer my sincere thanks and admiration to all concerned.”

Together, we decide what to campaign on. So please click here to take the survey and have your voice heard.


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Marching for Zane

October 21st, 2014 by

Today, Zane Gbangbola’s parents marched to Spelthorne Council to hand over a 15,000 strong petition demanding answers into why he died during the floods last year.

Zane’s parents think that his death was caused by a dangerous chemical from a nearby landfill site. They also think the council may have known about the risk to local residents before the floods last winter.

On what would have been Zane’s eighth birthday, nearly 100 supporters marched with his parents to the council offices, where they presented their petition to the council’s Chief Executive.

The campaign is still ongoing so if you agree that Spelthorne Council need to investigate whether there are chemicals in the area, please sign and share the petition:

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Rochester and Strood by-election: Survey results

October 21st, 2014 by

38 Degrees members are working together to put the issues ordinary people care about at the heart of the Rochester and Strood byelection. Hundreds of members in Rochester and Strood have taken part in a survey to decide what we do together – and to rank the issues that matter most to us.

As well as taking part in the survey, last week 38 Degrees members came together at two meetings in Rochester to talk about these issues further and flesh out what we can do together.

Here are the results of the survey of 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood:

Link to a bigger image: https://s.bsd.net/38degrees/main/page/-/RS%20involved%202.png

Link to a bigger image: https://s.bsd.net/38degrees/main/page/-/RS%20getinvolved%202.png

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TTIP: 38 Degrees members meet Seb Dance MEP

October 21st, 2014 by

Last Friday, 38 Degrees members attended a meeting with Seb Dance MEP, organised by the World Development Movement. It was a chance for those of us living in London to meet one of our representatives in Europe, and grill him on TTIP. TTIP is the dodgy EU-US trade deal that could allow corporations to sue governments, and could permanently privatise our public services.

WDM had written to lots of MEPs asking for meetings on this issue, but many had not replied. They don’t often get members of the public contacting them, unlike MPs – so it can be all too easy for them to shy away.

Seb agreed that not enough has been done to open the discussion to the public. He added that MEPs should also know more - even they’d found out through a leaked document! He praised campaigners too – saying that this is the first instance where civil society has engaged in a trade deal to this extent. Great work 38 Degrees members!

Everyone in the room spoke very passionately against TTIP – about the huge threat to our NHS and the worry of a power grab by corporations. It was great to see such appetite for discussion, and I’m sure Seb really felt the pressure from his constituents.

Most of us were confused about Labour’s position on TTIP and wanted to find out where they stood. One 38 Degrees member had written to Harriet Harman about TTIP – and had been told the trade deal was a positive thing for our economy. Seb clarified that the Labour Party were against the inclusion of the NHS in any deal, and they didn’t want ISDS in the deal either. That’s great news. But we pushed him as to why Labour wouldn’t vote against the deal as a whole.

There’s still lots of work to be done to pressure all political parties in Europe to make the right call when TTIP finally reaches them for a vote. Would you like to organise a meeting with one of your MEPs to help build momentum? Have you organised one already and would like to invite 38 Degrees members along? Brilliant! Send me an email: india.t@38degrees.org.uk.

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