Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).
Over 300 people came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, yesterday.
In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.
59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.
At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.
The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook) report notes,
Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.
A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.
Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.
Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.
Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes.
Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.
He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”
He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.
And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.
“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”
Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.
Sky news states (May 2014),
“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.
Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.
Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.
Their dispute about pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.
Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.
On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,
Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.
NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.
The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.
The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.
As Thomas Picketty has noted,
“Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)
The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!
Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:
Bosses at the private firm providing community healthcare in Suffolk have defended themselves following concerns over equipment provision.
Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, criticised the Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare after patients spoke of equipment delays.
Ms Basham heard how one elderly woman was told she would have to wait three weeks for a walking aid, while she also heard of delays for equipment for paediatric services as they were no longer stored in Suffolk.
It comes after concerns were raised in January about the performance of the Community Equipment Service (CES), part of Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare.
In October 2012, Serco took on the role of providing community health services to 600,000 patients in Suffolk.
The CES is an integrated service providing equipment for people with health and social care needs.
However, delays of up to five months in providing equipment, such as specialist beds, slings and hoists, and poor communication were among the concerns raised at a Suffolk health scrutiny committee meeting.
Regional Elections take place in Belgium on May the 25th.
La Libre Belgique reports that the new far-left alliance PTB-Go is at 8,1 (+0,5) of the vote in the French-speaking region of Wallionie according to the latest opinion poll.
The Socialists stand at nearly 30%, which is stable, while the Ecologists (Ecolo) are at 11%. The centre-right, MR is at 22,6% while the centrist CdH is only just above the PTB-Go at 9,4%
In Brussels the PTB-Go- PVDA (its Dutch name, Partij van de Arbeid van België,) is at 7,2% just behind the Ecologists – 8, 0%.
In Flanders the hard-right N-VA (independentists) of Bart de Wever are far in front with 32,9% of voting intentions. The Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij anders), the equivalent of the Labour Party, only gets 13,6%. The Flemish equivalent of PTB-Go, the PVDA + is at a high 4,1%.
As the PTB-GO site says, this is good news for the new alliance, though, it is, they underline, an opinion poll, which may, as in the past, over-estimate their real vote.
The Workers’ Party of Belgium (Dutch Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) has over 8,000 members (background here (English).
The party, from a Marxist-Leninist origin, is now aligned with the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), Socialistische Arbeiderspartij and the Belgium Communist Party (PC), to form PTB-go! (go – gauche d’ouverture).
It was initially formed in 2012 from an appeal by trade unionists and other activists. Its influence, as can be seen, has grown.
In Brussels smaller parties (including, according to La Libre Belgique, apparently the Pirate Party) are aligned with this list.
More information on PTB-Go site here.
Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.
He was truly a great man.
What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.
We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.
How they were backed by supporters across the world.
In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) played its part.
The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,
Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.
Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.
Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.
Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.
The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.
Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.
Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.
Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.
Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party, the trade unions, to a group of courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.
A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.
Comrade Ratty Comes to Ipswich in Anti-Austerity Protest.
Yesterday there were protests across the country, organised by the People’s Assembly.
In Ipswich the day began at 7.00 at Ipswich Station.
Around 7 people gave out leaflets by Action for Rail – to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rail Privatisation and support public ownership of rail. The rain was heavy but they got a good reception from rail users.
At 11.30 am Silent Street, Ipswich there was a vigil outside ATOS and Job Centre.
This was the first demonstration in the town against the hated ATOS and Liberal-Tory Workfare plans
Around thirty people came, in the drizzle.
They heard an impassioned speech by a representative of Suffolk Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
We demand the Coalition Government:
· Scraps the Work Capability Assessment
· Scraps the wasteful and punitive Work Programme which also pays millions to private companies.
· Stops unpaid work for benefit claimants – if work needs doing, people should be paid for doing it. Unpaid work takes away work from workers and undermines wages.
· Stops unjustified, deliberate sanctioning of benefit claimants.
· Stops further cuts in benefits.
· Benefit claimants did not cause the financial crisis or the public spending deficit.
Radio Suffolk interviewed Martin.
It was intensely moving.
We then moved off, at around 1.00 pm, to near Boots in Tavern St, behind the proud banner of DPAC, to begin the Living Wage Activity.
Leaflets were given out by our large crowd to the public on the Suffolk Living Wage campaign.
As we had decided, ““The first aim of the Suffolk People’s Assembly will be to make Ipswich a ‘living wage’ zone where all employers pay the ‘living wage’ which is currently £7.45 an hour outside London, compared with the national minimum wage of £6.19.”
We had a very good reaction from passers by.
One young woman remarked, “I don’t get as much as that!”
At 6.30 pm there was the Bonfire of Austerity, at Felaw Maltings”Consign Austerity to the Bonfire on the Green”.
Over 60 people came, in the cold damp evening, assembling around a brazier.
Comrade Ratty was at the corner of the Green.
Votes were taken as to which effigy, of David Cameron, George Osborne, Michael Gove, and a picture of Ian Duncan Smith would be flung on the flames.
There were simple, but to the point, speeches, on our fight for social justice against the Liberal-Tory Coalition.
A speaker from the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) explained why they were on strike that day.
We then went to the pub where hot dogs (veggie or meat) and soup were on offer.
It was a real people’s Assembly.
Disabled Campaigners, Trade Unionists, School students, Feminists, Labour Party activists, Socialists from various parties, Greens, Anarchists, and simply the ordinary people of Ipswich took part,
On the same day, the Guardian reports,
Protesters gather around the world for Million Mask March.
“In Parliament Square, protesters burned energy bills to oppose the rising cost of fuel and there were minor clashes with police in riot gear as protesters also gathered near Buckingham Palace, where a fire was started yards away from its gates. No arrests took place, according to the Metropolitan police.
The numbers of those protesting in central London were swelled by a gathering on Westminster Bridge organised by the People’s Assembly, an anti-cuts umbrella group whose “Bonfire of Austerity” was addressed by the Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Jon McDonnell.”
Sisters! Brothers! There’s a place for you, in the People’s Assembly!