Sunderland Echo column 11th December 2013
By Bridget Phillipson MP
Christmas is a traditionally a time for glad tidings. But npower’s recent announcement that, subject to consultation, it plans to transfer 430 jobs from its Rainton Bridge site to India is devastating news for staff. The jobs market in the north east is already extremely tough, and now even more families will be spending Christmas in a state of uncertainty as hundreds of npower workers face the prospect of losing their jobs in the new year.
In October npower announced that it would be raising energy prices by 10.4%, even though its profits soared in 2013. That’s why I believe npower has a responsibility to look after the workers who stand to lose their jobs and should put in place a support package for those made redundant which goes above and beyond what is required by law.
But the government cannot just wash its hands over this news, and that’s why I have also written to Secretary of State Vince Cable asking what the government plans to do for the hundreds of families who will now be spending Christmas worrying about the future.
Since the news broke I have been working with Sunderland City Council and JobCentre Plus to do everything I can to help those whose jobs are under threat. Britain cannot afford to go on ignoring the untapped potential of our region. As long term unemployment continues to rise and families are struggling to make ends meet, I hope the new year will bring better news for local people trying to find work.
In Parliament this week, we marked the passing of Nelson Mandela. MPs from across the House paid tribute to Mandela and his remarkable life and achievements. He was a hero of our age who teaches us the power of forgiveness. A man who put his country and his people first in striving for reconciliation. It is almost impossible to comprehend the scale of his personal sacrifice. In spite of his suffering, he emerged after 27 years in prison without anger and determined to deliver a peaceful South Africa. Many people across Britain were involved in the Anti Apartheid movement and campaigned for Mandela's release and an end to injustice. Those people who marched, protested and boycotted South African goods each played their part. At a time when there is doubt about whether politics can make a difference, the work of campaigners here and across the world shows that by coming together it is possible to bring about change. Nelson Mandela's life reminds us that no cause is beyond hope. His legacy calls on us all to continue to stand up to injustice, poverty and oppression across the world.