Posts Tagged ‘Suffolk’
On Tuesday up to 60 people came to Ipswich Library Lecture room to the Suffolk People’s Assembly meeting, “Defend our Unions and Right to Resist Austerity.”
Speakers represented many different aspects of the Trade union and anti-cuts movement.
Dave Smith, a Founder Member of Blacklist Support Group, spoke on employers who witch-hunted activists out of jobs. Drawing on his experience in the building trade he outlined the long-standing campaign against the practice, and the recent actions against Crossrail and private contractors for public services.
Donna Guthrie of Joint Chair Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) talked of their grass-roots campaigning in London’s East End. In Newham they had struck deep roots in the community, from many different ethnic backgrounds. They were campaigning against cuts in social housing, and issues such as the abuse of police powers.
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, said,
I’m Proud that NUT was in at the beginning of People’s Assembly and to share this platform today.
Why is the NUT is involved?
Well firstly because Teachers can’t separate themselves from the rest of working people. But perhaps more importantly because many of the children we teach see the worst effects of the austerity agenda. And it is the most vulnerable hit hardest.
Kevin described the attacks on the education system, spearheaded by Michael Gove.
How do we offer an alternative?
The Peoples Assembly shows the characteristics we need for the fight back – unity, broad base, looking for activity, something for everyone to do and contribute to And we do see very successful mobilisations all over the country – against cuts and closures in the health service, against the bedroom tax and evictions, against schools being forced into academy status.
Bill Bowring, the International Secretary of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, and Colchester based, congratulated Suffolk People’s Assembly on its work. He listed more reasons to offer an alternative to the Liberal-Conservative government’s policies. He said that reducing legal aid, a pillar of the post-war settlement, was part of the same weakening of social rights as attacks on the NHS and education.
Roy Humphries FBU Secretary Suffolk Fire Brigades Union, spoke on the government’s plans to reduce their pension rights and raise the age of retirement to an unsustainable limit.
He described how their battles were far from over and thanked members of the local labour movement, in particular Ipswich Trades Council, who had supported their protests.
Jim Kelly, Chair of London & Eastern Region Unite the Union, spoke on his union’s base in the private sector. He outlined the decline in collective bargaining agreements – the UK is now apparently on a par with only one country, Lithuania, for its low level of these agreements. Jim cited how UNITE had successfully fought back against employers and had, for example, won bonus for London Bus drivers, and had defended their members. UNITE were beginning to tackle the problems created by the anti-union Gateway port employers. What was needed were changes to the anti-trade union laws that prevented workers form organising and only a Labour government, he suggested, could do that.
On the Grangemouth dispute Jim pointed out that it was the local membership who had decided on an agreement with a ruthless employers.
In the discussion that followed a member of the SWP attacked the Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.
Others saw the trade unions in a positive light, as reaching out to people to defend social rights and as advocates of a better society.
The People’s Assembly was mentioned as a way people draw campaigns and unions together. The previous week Suffolk activists had supported the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) protest against ATOS. A campaign extending our work on the Living Wage, will be launched for Fast-Food workers.
At the People’s Assembly National Conference (15 March) Suffolk will be presenting two motions. One opposes the government’s policies against migrant workers. The other calls for a national campaign against Workfare and for Charities, social sector and local authorities to have nothing to do with forced labour.
Ipswich Postal workers mentioned their fight to defend their conditions, and the effects of the closure of the local sorting office.
In the pub afterwards activists considered that the meeting had been a success and a help in our efforts to campaign for progressive politics.
Sisters, Brothers! There’s a place for you – in the People’s Assembly!
Ben Gummer’s Political Programme.
Ipswich Tory MP Ben Gummer is famous for a number of things.
- He has ” suggested shaking up local government so that councillors solely representing local businesses could be elected to town halls.Mr Gummer acknowledged the idea “had no hope of getting into a manifesto” but pointed to the City of London, as a model for how his idea works in practice.The City is governed by the Corporation of London, which is the oldest local authority in England having been founded in medieval times.Elections there give votes to both firms and residents. (BBC 2012)
- For his book, The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles. Gummer suggested that the Catholic Church played a noble role in comforting the sick and helping stem the worst effects of the plague. This may or may not be taken as seriously. We note that his Catholicism has not helped him take a stand against the misery that “welfare reform” has brought to many of his constituents. Or to help the present-day unwell fight off the ATOS pandemic.
- Being a Toady, a founder indeed, of the Royal Guild of Toadies. This has earned him the position of adviser to Michael Gove.
Today we learn this,
Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, is bringing forward a 10-minute rule bill this week that proposes changing the name as the first step towards merging it with income tax.
It is highly unlikely to make it into law through this route but George Osborne, the chancellor, is said to be attracted to the idea.
Gummer has been campaigning on tax transparency as a merger of income tax and NICs could make it clearer to people how much they are paying to the exchequer out of their earnings.
National insurance, first introduced in 1911, is levied on employers and employees to pay for certain benefits such as the state pension. It works out at around 12% per year, plus an extra 2% for earnings above £41,450.
Ipswich Spy notes that renaming National Insurance is a demand of the hard-right Tax Payers’ Alliance*.
Gummer states that “Taxpayers are consumers”, including no doubt employers.
Nobody should be in any doubt as to which ‘consumers’ he is most interested in.
A recent post (14th February) on his Blog shows where he stands, “ANGLIAN WATER SHOWS WHY PRIVATIZATION CAN WORK.”
Now he wants to get people aligned with the bosses to complain about the level of tax, that is the “earnings tax”.
Gummer’s support for the City of London and hard-right free-market ideas are no secret.
Perhaps Georgi Dimitrov was thinking of the likes of Gummer when he talked of “of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”
*The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has called for National Insurance (NI) to be scrapped to make the tax system simpler and more transparent. The need for tax reform has never been more pressing, particularly in light of this week’s revelations about HMRC errors.
The campaign group says National Insurance serves no purpose and has set out a package of measures to merge both employers’ and employees’ contributions with Income Tax. The call comes as part of the Treasury’s call for feedback as part of its consideration of the integration of the operation of the income tax and National Insurance contributions system……
The move could significantly reduce the burden on businesses of complying with these taxes, as well as making it easier for people to see exactly how much tax they are paying on their earnings. Here.
The Spectator underlines our point.
After describing the Ipswich Toad Eater’s proposal
That’s all very noble in itself. But there’s another point, which Gummer isn’t focusing on, but which is politically handy to his party. Labour wants a greater emphasis on raising taxes after 2015 than the Conservatives do. But because tax rises aren’t very popular, the best way to do this beyond some symbolic taxes such as raising the top rate back to 50p (if that raises anything more at all) and introducing a mansion tax would be to focus on the mysterious National Insurance. But if National Insurance became an Earnings Tax and it was clearer to the electorate what it is, then the Tories wouldn’t need to work quite so hard on their ‘stealth tax’/’jobs tax’ campaigns as they have before.
Suffolk New College
Monday 27th January 2014
JIMAS would like to invite you to the Holocaust Memorial Day event organised in association with the Suffolk New College & University Campus Suffolk chaplaincy.
This is a free event to be opened by Professor Dave Muller, Principal of Suffolk New College. The event will include a buffet, short presentations, panel discussion, and a question and answer session with a variety of participants.
Taking part in this event will be: Frank Bright (Holocaust survivor), Jo Berry (daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP killed in the IRA Brighton Bombing), Pat Magee (given multiple life sentences for the Brighton Bombing), Tommy Robinson (Ex-EDL), Nick Jode (Ex-EDL), Umme Thara (ex-Al-Muhajiroun), Munir Zamir (Ex-Hizb-ut-Tahrir), Mubin Shaikh (former undercover counter terrorism operative for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), Dr. Usama Hasan (ex-Jihadi). The event would be chaired by Ms Sara Khan of the women’s organisation Inspire.
Date: Monday 27th January 2014
Muhammad Manwar Ali (Abu Muntasir) of the extremely controversial Jimas is given on the printed leaflet as the main figure involved in the event.
This site leaves it to others to comment on this event, the involvement of people from an extreme Islamist background, now associated with the Quilliam think-tank, and its relevance to Holocaust Memorial Day.
But we note of Tommy Robinson that Wikipedia says,
“When Robinson was questioned by The Guardian about having in the past blamed “‘every single Muslim’ for ‘getting away’ with the 7 July bombings, and for calling Islam a fascist and violent religion, he held up his hands and said: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’” Robinson also said he would now give evidence to the police to help their investigation of racists within the EDL. Robinson added that “his future work would involve taking on radicalism on all fronts, although he could not support anti-fascist groups because they also subscribed to ‘communism’ or were ‘anarchists’.
We also note that according to news today that,
Violent hooligan former leader of English Defence League Tommy Robinson to lecture children in schools on TOLERANCE
- The 30-year-old will speak to students about tolerance and extremism
- Parents are unhappy Robinson is being allowed allowed into classrooms
- Students will learn about ‘standing up for what you believe in’
- On school who invited him to speak have cancelled today
Comment: the role of JIMAS in the local community must be seriously questioned.
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!
The Suffolk People’s Assembly held a very successful meeting on Tuesday night.
Around 150 people crammed into the Co-op Education Centre in Fore Street to hear speakers on “It’s Time to Fight Back’.
People came from Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Saxmundham, and Hadleigh as well as Ipswich and its surroundings.
As the trade union UNITE noted, “The assembly intends to act as a focal point for a general campaign against the tide of austerity that is hitting the 728,000 people living in this predominately rural county. “
The meeting was organised by trade unionists, and a range of campaigners from across the county. Many had been active in the Suffolk Coalition for Public Services which had held large demonstrations against the cuts in the region.
There were banners from Ipswich and District Trades Council, UNITE, the NUT, the GMB and Disabled People Against Cuts.
Graham White, Suffolk county secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) led off the meeting. he talked of the privatisation of education and the attacks by the Education Minister, Michael Gove, on teachers Graham called for support for the coming joint NUT/NASUWT strike action.
Teresa McKay, Secretary of Ipswich Trades Council, talked of the way austerity and poverty hit us, particularly women. She backed the Living Wage campaign, and a one-day national protest general strike to oppose government policies.
David Ellesemere, Leader of Ipswich Council Labour Group, began by dissecting the disaster created by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition’s economic policies. He cited, Winston Churchill to back the argument that low wages ended up by making everybody worse off.
David made the Living Wage,calculated as the salary needed for a decent standard of living without tax credits, * the centrepiece of his speech.
He observed that the state was now subsidising bad employers by refusing to introduce this standard. He said that Ipswich Borough Council had brought the Living Wage, and banned zero hour contracts for their employees. A Suffolk Living Wage Campaign would bring pressure on those companies which refused “A fair day’s pay for a fair day;s work”.
Ipswich Borough Council was proud to announce that it had begun building Council Houses, for the first time in many years.
The Council had, so far, resisted cuts – though the Coalition was now set to introduce centrally imposed reductions in Ipswich spending.
David’s speech, which took a clear anti-austerity stand, was well received.
Dianne Holland, Assistant General Secretary of UNITE, spoke of the broader effects of austerity. We needed an alternative that could grip people’s imaginations and inspire opposition, Unity, People sticking together, was what we need.
Owen Jones, the keynote speaker, made just such an inspiring speech.
He talked of the politics of hope, opposed to the Government’s efforts to create fear and envy, setting the working poor against the unemployed, the healthy against the disabled, and the stigmatising of migrant workers.
Owen slammed the disability ’testing’ firm, ATOS, one of many of the government’s welfare ‘reforms’, the bedroom tax, and the fact that people now had to be fed by Food Banks.
Many people react to the decline in living standards and policies designed to foment division, with frustration and anger.
Hope, he said, was as essential to life.
In place of the Government’s politics of hatred Owen offered plans for public housing, for decent wages not tax credits, and for welfare. It was a scandal that rents were so high that the Housing Benefits were going into landlords’ pockets, without helping solve the housing crisis. In their place rent controls and a massive programme of public sector housing were needed instead. Banks, bailed out during the financial disasters of the last few years, should be brought under public control and used to promote investment. tax avoidance should be stemmed.
The movement, he observed, had a knack for division, into rival Judean Fronts.
But now we were working together towards common goals.
Owen’s speech ended with a standing ovation from the audience.
There was ample time for debate.
There was concern that over the weekend a ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’ live music charity event at The Steamboat Tavern on the Waterfront had cancelled by organisers after threats from the English Defence League. Around 11 members of the EDL had turned up. **
Members of the audience raised issues such the cuts in education locally, Labour Party Policy, the NHS’s use of agency workers. Concerns about the Labour Party’s policies in these areas, and over squatting, were raised. Women from the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) called for people to support their campaign against the service’s sell-off.
One speaker, indicating how the politics of division could be fought, said that the local UNITE had recently recruited a substantial number of Eastern European Haulage drivers.
Sandy Martin Leader of the Labour Group on Suffolk County Council noted that unlike Ipswich Borough, the Tory-run County employed people on zero-hour contracts. Its privatised services, such as Home-care service exploited workers still further.
After the Assembly people remarked on how heartening they had found the meeting.
Serious follow ups are planned.
The Suffolk Living Wage Campaign will be organised in the coming weeks.
People will be out on the September the 29th NHS demo outside the Tory Conference in Manchester, and the November the 5th Day of Action.
Tuesday was a springboard for a much wider campaign against austerity in Suffolk.
Suffolk People’s Assembly meeting at the Coop Education Centre Ipswich, on September 17th 2003 resolves to:-
* Oppose the Austerity policies being carried out by the Coalition government and develop political and economic alternatives to them. Read the rest of this entry »