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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 3 December 2007

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Long hours working on increase

LONG hours working is on the increase in the UK, reversing the slow but steady 10-year decline in people working more than 48 hours a week - according to a new TUC analysis.

More than 1 in 8 of the workforce now work more than 48 hours each week, with as many as 1 in 6 in London putting in 48 hours plus a week.  In the North West, there are 306,000 people working more than 48 hours per week.

The law protects people against an average working week of more than 48 hours unless they opt out of working time rules. But the TUC says that a lack of enforcement means that bad employers know that this is one employment right that they can breach with little or no risk of any consequences.  Good employers have responded to concerns about the need for a greater work-life balance. But these figures show that a hard core of bad employers are taking no notice of either the law or calls from government, progressive employers and unions, says the TUC.

The latest Labour Force Survey shows that 93,000 more people now work more than 48 hours a week, taking the total to 3,242,000. This is a rise to 13.1% of the workforce (up from 12.8% last year).  The biggest increases in the numbers of people working in excess of 48 hours are in the South East (an increase of 28,000 to 525,000), and London (an increase of 25,000 to 481,000). These 2 regions have the highest proportion of the workforce working long hours (16.1% in London and 14.8% in the South East).  The biggest increase in the share of the workforce putting in more than 48 hours took place in Wales where it went up 1.3% to 12.2%. Only the South West and the East Midlands buck the trend with a small fall in long hours workers.

North West TUC Regional Secretary Alan Manning said:- “These are very disturbing numbers. They suggest that the slow, but at least steady, decline in those working more than 48 hours a week has come to an end. Many employers recognise that overworked staff are unproductive by introducing more flexibility and better work-life balance, often under union pressure. But it now looks as if their efforts are being undone by those who don’t care about long hours. No-one should forget that 48 hours is 6, 8-hour days – more than enough for anyone every week.

There is undoubted abuse of the law, but employers know they can get away with it because it is rarely enforced. Neither the Health and Safety Executive nor local authorities - who share responsibility for enforcement - have the resources to implement the law. And the Government knows that employers can abuse the opt-out as ministers consulted on ways to close loopholes in 2004, but have yet to bring forward any concrete proposals for change. The current discussions on how best to protect vulnerable workers and enforce existing rights must include working time rights and closing the loopholes that make a voluntary opt-out a joke.”

The TUC says that these official figures underestimate long hours working as the sample on which the survey is based is unlikely to include a proper share of migrant workers and excludes those who live at their place of work, such as some hotel and care staff who work long hours.  Under Europe’s working time regulations workers are protected from working more than an average 48-hour week. But in the UK – unlike other EU countries – all workers can opt out of this protection. Previous TUC research shows that this is widely abused – 2/3rds are not asked to opt out before they are expected to work in excess of 48 hours and a 1/4 of those who signed were given no real choice about opting out.

UK nations and regions Working more than 48 hours per week 2007 (thousands) Changes since 2006 (thousands)
South East 525 28
London 481 25
Eastern 339 18
Wales 143 17
Scotland 258 12
North East 118 0
North West (inc Merseyside) 306 0
Yorkshire and Humberside 242 0
West Midlands 266 0
Northern Ireland 61 0
South West 262 -14
East Midlands 240 -15


3,242 93


UK nations and regions % of employees working more than 48 hours per week Changes since 2006 (%)
Wales 12.2 1.3
London 16.1 0.9
South East 14.8 0.9
Eastern 14.6 0.7
Northern Ireland 9.4 0.7
North East 11.7 0.6
Scotland 11.8 0.5
West Midlands 12.3 0.2
North West (inc Merseyside) 11.3 0
Yorkshire and Humberside 11.8 -0.1
East Midlands 13.3 -0.6
South West 12.4 -0.7


13.1 0.3

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Cultural collages launched

ARTWORK created by local people – and inspired by Adrian Henri and Peter Blake – is about to go on display at Liverpool Central library.

Liverpool Community College has teamed up with Mersey Care NHS Trust to encourage people with mental health problems to produce 2 stunning pieces of art celebrating Liverpool's rich history of music and art as the city approaches its Capital of Culture year.  The pieces also celebrate Liverpool’s twinning with Stavanger, the Norwegian city designated next year’s non-European Capital of Culture. And the exhibition will pave the way for a major cultural exchange between mental health services in both cities.

Liverpool Community College worked with Mersey Care NHS Trust and Stavanger Mental Health Services on the project. Learners of all abilities created the pieces during sessions at the college and in the Occupational Therapy department at the Broadoak Unit, an adult mental health in-patient unit in Broadgreen, Liverpool.

Their brief was ‘Liverpool, Art and Music’ and the result is two spectacular collages, entitled ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘The Twinning of Liverpool and Stavanger 08’ inspired by Adrian Henri's "Entry Of Christ Into Liverpool", and Peter Blake's collage "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Liverpool City Council’s executive member for libraries, Councillor Colin Eldridge, said:- “This is a fantastic project which has brought together people from different sections of the community and given them the chance to express what Liverpool’s culture means to them.  We want the people of the city to be at the heart of Capital of Culture, and these stunning artworks are a great example of how we can get our communities engaged in the celebrations.”

The colourful mixed media images, produced on canvas in paint and collage, feature Liverpool icons such as The Beatles, George Melly, Adrian Henri himself and the statues from Gormley's ‘Another Place’ – all set against the backdrop of Liverpool’s world famous skyline. They also capture Liverpool diverse cultural heritage and the massive regeneration going on in the city.

Project co-ordinator at the community college, Judy Mazonowicz, said:- “All the service users involved on this artwork have mental health problems and the work they do with us helps raise their self esteem and breaks down barriers to attending college.”

Head Occupational Therapist at the Broadoak Unit, Ann Gallagher, said:- “The collage ‘The Twinning of Stavanger and Liverpool 08’ is an example of the brilliant skills of our service users. The collage also celebrates the excellent work which has developed from our partnership with the City of Liverpool Community College.”

Mersey Care’s Stavanger project lead Judith Mawer said:- “We are hoping to engage in a cultural exchange with mental health service users and workers in Stavanger, Norway, and our occupational therapists and activity workers have been facilitating a creative project with this in mind.  Choosing to explore art and music with service users at Broadoak reflects their take on the Liverpool pop art and music scene. Liverpool’s reputation in this respect is internationally renowned and I’m sure that the people of Norway will equally enjoy spotting famous faces who have gained celebrity for their creative talent.”

Liverpool Culture Company Creative Health and Well Being Manager Julie Hanna said:- “Individuals who receive services from Mersey Care NHS Trust are exploring their local culture such as music, art and food and then finding creative ways to express this culture and share with people with similar mental health problems in Stavanger.  The Capital of Culture year allows us to see afresh the place we live, the things we do and the people we do spend time with. And these are the things that can help us to keep emotionally healthy. “

The artwork is launched at Liverpool Central Library on Wednesday 28 November, remaining on display until the end of 2007. In the New Year is will move to community venues and libraries throughout the city during 2008, starting with Childwall Library and then Spellow Library, Walton.

Get a Letter from Santa this Christmas and help vulnerable children

WITH Christmas less than 30 days away, people from across the region are being encouraged to get in the festive season this Christmas and support the NSPCC’s Letter from Santa fundraising campaign – supported by Hotpoint.  Parents, carers, grandparents, aunts and uncles can support the children’s charity and bring some magical festive cheer into a child’s life by arranging to have a special letter from Santa delivered to their door.

Janette Drew, NSPCC community fundraising manager said:- “Letter from Santa is a brilliant way to add an extra sparkle to a child’s Christmas. For a minimum donation of just £5, they will receive a special personalised letter, flown all the way from Santa’s grotto in Lapland by his trusted reindeer.

But it is important to remember that Christmas is not a time of celebration for every child. Over the 12 days of festive cheer last year, ChildLine – a service provided by the NSPCC - counselled 4,756 children who were in danger or distress and had nowhere else to turn. Parents, grandparents, families and friends who support Letter from Santa, will help create a safer, happier Christmas for these children.

To receive a Letter from Santa for a child you know, you can call 0870 325 9012 or order online at by 14 December 2007.”
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