Archive for Geraint

Council workers demand fair pay!

Sara Huntingford, assistant branch secretary of Unison Nottingham City and Socialist Party member on megaphone

Nottingham City UNISON, UNITE and GMB held a protest yesterday against the 1% pay rise that has been offered to local government workers. Many council workers are low paid and have had, in effect, a pay cut of 18% over the last few years.

Adrian Piction, senior steward for UNISON and Socialist Party member speaks to protest

Adrian Piction, senior steward for UNISON and Socialist Party member speaks to protest

As well as this, workers at Nottingham City have had their increments frozen, meaning that some of the lowest paid in the council are earning below a living wage.

Unison have been demanding fair pay – an £1 an hour increase for all workers.

Nottingham City Unison branch also have an agreed position of calling on the Labour-controlled council to refuse to pass on the cuts and set a balanced, no-cuts budget using their reserves and borrowing powers whilst building a mass campaign to demand more money from central government.

The Socialist Party supports this position and argues that if Labour are not prepared to do this, in next year’s council elections we should stand candidates who are prepared to stand and fight!

 

 

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Teachers ‘inspect the inspectors’!

Photo0117[1]Stand Up For Education coaltion, involving teachers from NUT and NASUWT unions, have been protesting in Nottingham against Ofsted after 6 schools in Nottingham were suddenly put into special measures.

The unions see this as a politically motivated attack on the schools in Nottingham in an attempt to push for more free schools and academies. Even schools that received over 88% in their teaching were deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

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After a protest in December under the banner “Hands Off our Schools”, teachers went into Ofsted offices to ‘inspect the inspectors’, to question who they were accountable to and to demand they can look at the data collected from the schools in Nottingham.

Ofsted did not allow the teachers in to inspect – a luxury that schools don’t have when they are faced with constant inspections! They have agreed to a meeting with the unions, however, which would not have happened without these protests.

The Socialist Party demands that Ofsted is abolished. Bullying and target-setting are not ways to provide decent education. We also demand an end to and reversal of privatisation and for schools to be run democratically by elected representatives, subject to recall, including school teachers and non-teaching staff, parents, local trade unionists, community organisations and secondary school students. For more info on our demands around education, see: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/campaign/Education/Ofsted/17569

UCU strike: “the money is there, so where’s our share?”

On both of the two hour strikes on Thursday 23rd and Tuesday 28th January, around 50 UCU members and students gathered for protest rallies outside Nottingham Trent University (NTU). The strike is about pay. UCU members were pointing out that whilst they were getting, in reality, a pay cut the vice chancellor’s pay increase meant he was now taking home £320,000 a year. One speaker at the rally asked the strikers, “Is that because he works ten times harder than us?” and was answered by a chorus of “No!”.
 
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Students spoke at the rally to give support to their striking lecturers, making the point that if students are paying £9,000 a year, they would rather that money was going towards decent lecturers, not into the pockets of the vice chancellors! I also spoke to give solidarity from Youth Fight for Jobs and talked about the use of zero-hours contracts on university campuses as well as the future (or lack of) facing young people leaving university.
 
At the second rally, members started to discuss the need to escalate strike action if this dispute is going to be won. NTU is one of 11 universities who are docking a full day’s pay from lecturers walking out for two hours. The aim of the management is to bully and scare UCU members into not taking any action but in fact the opposite has happened – they are more determined to take action and for the next planned two hour strike to be escalated nationally into a full day’s strike as a step towards further action.
 
The strikers finished their rally with chants of “the money is there, so where’s our share?”.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to contest Nottingham by-elections

Geraint Thomas (left) and Cathy Meadows (right) on Anti-bedroom tax protest

Geraint Thomas (left) and Cathy Meadows (right) on Anti-bedroom tax protest

The Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing in the Nottingham city council by-elections on 7th November against the bedroom tax and all cuts to jobs, services and benefits.

Due to the resignation of two councillors for health reasons, there will be by-elections in the Dales and Radford & Park wards. TUSC will be contesting these as an alternative to the three main parties.

TUSC says:

Axe the bedroom tax!

The Con-Dem government is making savage cuts to benefits. The ‘bedroom tax’ brought in on 1st April this year has been met with huge resistance. People simply cannot afford it. In Nottingham, 6000 people are being hit but there are just 35 smaller properties on offer.

Nottingham City Council should refuse to evict anyone who cannot afford to pay this unfair tax. Labour leader Ed Miliband has stated that a future Labour government will repeal the tax – but 2015 is too late, we need action now!

If elected, TUSC councillors will demand that the council and housing associations do not evict anyone who cannot pay and will mount a campaign to axe this tax completely!

Save our Services!

Nottingham City Council has made £25m worth of cuts this year alone. It plans to make £55m more cuts next year. They have mainly been attacking Adult and Children Services, with higher charges for Adult care. As well as increasing Council Tax they have passed on the cuts of 18% to Council Tax Benefit. As a result of funding cuts, 54% of voluntary organisations say they will be forced to close over the next year.

TUSC opposes all cuts to services. The council has upwards of £133m in reserves – more than enough to continue funding services!

Oppose attacks on jobs, pay and conditions

Over 500 jobs have gone from the council in the last two years alone. Further cuts will mean further job losses. Local govern-ment workers are facing attack after attack on pay, pension & terms and conditions.

TUSC opposes the 1% public sector pay freeze and supports a trade union-led fight-back to defend jobs, pay & conditions. We support the call for a 24-hour general strike against austerity.

Labour: not an alternative to the Tories

It is the Con-Dem government nationally that is to blame for the dire situation locally by making unprecedented cuts to local gov-ernment.

But what is Labour’s alternative? They intend to keep to the government’s 2015 spending plans if they get into power! At Nottingham City Council, despite having an overwhelming major-ity, Labour has passed on these cuts without a fight and have even said they intend to evict people for Bedroom Tax arrears!

We don’t need crocodile tears and hand wringing. We need a real alternative for the working class.

TUSC councillors will propose a budget based on what the city actually needs & demand Labour backs it. The council could use part of the £133m in reserves & build a huge campaign to get back the money the government has stolen from the council!

CATHY MEADOWS – DALES

I‘ve been a Sneinton resident for most of my life and I am proud of our heritage: Green’s Windmill, allotments, Colwick car boot, shops and community groups and centres, all of which reflect our diversity and, like Sneinton Festival, bring people together. Sneinton probably has more homeless support projects than any other part of the city and we don’t see this as a “problem” instead we provide a safe and friendly commu-nity where people can get back on their feet. Currently I lead a campaign against the Bedroom Tax and cuts to Council Tax Benefit – benefits are the safety net for working class people and it is vital that we fight to stop them getting eroded.

I am standing as a TUSC candidate because TUSC is a coalition of integri-ty, for example all TUSC MPs will only take the average worker’s wage and TUSC does not accept funding from big business.

GERAINT THOMAS – RADFORD & PARK

I’ve lived in Nottingham for 5 years and have been active in fighting at-tacks on ordinary people for the past year. I’ve become disappointed in Nottingham City’s Labour Council passing on the cuts handed down from the Government, slashing their budgets rather than fighting back, mak-ing the people of Nottingham bear the brunt of these attacks, cutting basic services, freezing pay for council workers and doing the bare mini-mum to fight the bedroom tax.

If elected I would fight to break the wage freeze for council workers, to resist cuts to public services and to set a no evictions policy on the bed-room tax, and challenge the government directly on their cuts.

GET INVOLVED! Can you help with the campaign? Contact us: nottstusc@gmail.com – 07703 353 130

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Stand up for education! Hundreds march in Nottingham on teachers strike

“Stand up for education – Gove must go!” is what hundreds of teachers were chanting as they marched through Nottingham on the day of their strike. The well supported march and rally was applauded by passers by as it made it’s way through the streets into the city centre. This made a big difference to the teachers who were saying “it’s good that parents realise we’re striking for their children”.
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One teacher spoke to the Socialist: “It’s a myth that teachers have short working days, long holidays and easy work. We’re concerned that children have enough pressure already, they should enjoy primary school, not be set to figures and results”.
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Many supported the demand for a national strike in November, enthusiastically taking the Socialist Party leaflet, and also the demand for co-ordinated action with other trade unions.

 

Solidarity with firefighters on strike

Members of the Fire Brigade Union took strike action on Wednesday for 4 hours against government plans to force them to work longer (until 60), pay more into their pension and get less money when they retire.
FBU have made it clear that firefighters do not want to take strike action but feel they have no choice in order to defend the service – many people do not have the same fitness level at the age of 60 as they do at the age of 30 and so public safety can be compromised if firefighters have to work longer.
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Around 45 firefighters impressively marched out of Nottinghamshire Central firestation in formation. Members of the public were coming up to the picket line to sign their ‘visitors book’ and bus drivers were honking their horns in support as they drove past.
One striker summed up the mood on the picket line when he said “The government is trying to pick us off one by one, we need to all be out together”. Many firefighters knew teachers who are preparing for strike action next week in the East Midlands and referred to other possible strikes and could see the need for co-ordinating that action.

Women in Nottingham prepare fight against sexism & austerity

Nottingham Feminist Action Network hosted a women’s conference on Saturday for women from around the county to discuss how women can organise to campaign against cuts, objectification and other attacks. There is obviously a lot to be discussed and a great thirst for getting organised as the 140 tickets quickly sold out and there was a waiting list of over 50 women to attend.
Many issues affecting women were raised throughout the day and workshops were held on fighting austerity, victim blaming and objectification in the media. Local campaigns were highlighted, including Rape is No Joke, a campaign launched by Socialist Students, alongside No More Page 3, Million Women Rise and Notts Against the Bedroom Tax.
Around the conference, 41 fringe events took place ranging from poetry nights and plays to discussion events and workshops. Rape Is No Joke supported a very successful comedy night which raised money for Nottingham Rape Crisis and also hosted a discussion on “rape culture” and how we fight it. Sarah Wrack, national organiser of the campaign, outlined what we were organising against, the impact it has on women and why socialists are taking up these issues: that we are trying to build a united struggle of working class people against austerity and for a truly equal society. We attracted 14 new people to that meeting and over the course of the events have had around 35 people who have signed up to support us and want to use Rape Is No Joke to tackle rape culture and misogyny at the universities and in other areas in Nottingham.

PCS strike well supported in Nottingham

Members of PCS (Public and Commercial Services union) who work for the DWP and HMRC were on strike yesterday against cuts to public services. The government is closing HMRC enquiry offices and cutting jobs in DWP.

As part of a week of rolling regional action, PCS members in the Midlands and the South East struck and held rallies across the region. In Nottingham, after holding successful picket lines outside workplaces, strikers then spent time leafleting and petitioning the public outside the JobCentre on Station Street to build the opposition to the closure of HMRC enquiry centres.

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PCS has been instrumental in leading the fightback against the government’s austerity measures by campaigning against the idea that “cuts are necessary” by calling for investment to collect tax and provide decent public services.

Send messages of support to campaigns@pcs.org.uk

TUSC makes step forward in Nottinghamshire

TUSC contested three seats across Nottinghamshire: Mansfield North, Hucknall and Carlton East. At the last elections in 2009, Labour lost control of the council, which they had held since 1981, to the Tories. In Hucknall, an ex-mining town, the three seats had been won by two Tory candidates and one UKIP candidate.

Our campaign was focused on the cuts the Tories have been making locally, including sacking 3000 council workers, closing 22 day services and privatising elderly people’s homes. We argued throughout the campaign that whilst the Tories are responsible for these attacks both locally and nationally, we needed to build a fighting working class alternative – something that would not be provided by Labour or UKIP.

Labour won control of the council and UKIP lost their only councillor in the county. TUSC polled a respectable 158 votes in Hucknall, 145 in Mansfield North and 67 in Carlton East. Those who voted for us liked our clear message, that we are 100% anti-cuts, that the mess we are in is caused by the rich and the bankers, and that they should be made to pay.  There was concern on the doorstep about the bedroom tax, which Labour nationally has not promised to scrap.  Many held their noses and voted Labour, for nice, gentle cuts as opposed to vicious Tory cuts.

The election has meant that TUSC has made a step forward in Nottinghamshire by involving council workers in the campaign who know their jobs and services are still under threat despite Labour regaining control. After helping with the campaign, these trade unionists want to continue to support TUSC. One of the councillors in Mansfield North is on the leadership of the Labour group, and her position on cuts is ambiguous, to say the least. Now they are hoping we will go away but we are committed to building a genuine anti-cuts alternative in Nottinghamshire.

 

Why TUSC is standing in Hucknall – a reply to Councillor Jim Grundy

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing one candidate in the three seats up for election for the Hucknall ward in the Nottinghamshire County Council election on May 2nd. This is part of a national challenge by TUSC where we are standing in around 125 seats. In Nottinghamshire, we are also standing in Carlton East and in Mansfield North. TUSC is an electoral alliance that puts forward candidates in the elections who are committed to voting against the cuts and proposing a budget based on what is needed to prevent cuts to jobs and services.

Jim Grundy, who is a councillor on Ashfield District Council for Hucknall West, has written a blog entry questioning why TUSC has decided to stand. This reply serves to answer those questions. http://think-left.org/2013/04/04/will-the-left-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater/

Currently, the working class is facing a huge attack from the Con-Dem government and there is an important debate needed on how our movement will succeed in defeating them. For TUSC supporters, this means providing an alternative. It means candidates in elections that are prepared to take a stand against the cuts, not just in words but in deeds. We believe that the Labour Party no longer represents us and we believe that it is not possible to ‘reclaim’ Labour for working class people. We believe that we need a new workers’ party that is prepared to provide political representation for the majority with a clear programme of opposing all cuts. As part of building this party, we are standing in elections and are asking people who support our aims to join with us. (www.tusc.org.uk)

TUSC does not have a position of “opposing Labour whatever it does”.  Where Labour councillors (and at the moment it is only a handful) are prepared to vote against the cuts in the council chamber, we are prepared to fully support them. In Southampton, Hull and Warrington where individual councillors have voted against the cuts proposed by the Labour controlled authorities, TUSC has supported them and has in fact played an important role in lobbies to defend them when the Labour Party has voted to suspend them. There is more about this on http://councillorsagainstcuts.org/.

We make no apology for standing against Labour councillors who vote for cuts. For example, Nottingham City Council, on which Labour have a large majority, has just voted for £17m worth of cuts, an increase in Council Tax and a cut in Council Tax Benefit. TUSC will be putting forward candidates in the next city council elections opposing this.

We are standing against Labour in the County Council elections because we are not convinced that if Labour wins a majority that they will propose a no-cuts budget which means a budget that prevents  further job losses and further attacks to services. The current leader of the Labour group, Alan Rhodes, has put forward that “difficult decisions” will need to be made; in other words, Labour will make cuts.

TUSC supporters in Mansfield were contacted by the Mansfield Labour Party TUSC asked them if they were prepared to vote against cuts, particularly if they were prepared to vote in the council chamber against the budget being voted for by the rest of the Labour group. They replied that they “couldn’t promise that”. We had a similar discussion with one of the Hucknall Labour candidates on our campaigning stall. This seems to be the position of Labour across the county.

TUSC does have a strategy of what to “do in the here and now”. We propose that councils use their reserves (we understand that Nottinghamshire County Council has around £200m in reserves) and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing cuts from the government to council funding on to people in the county via job and service cuts. We propose that councils use the time that this will buy them to build a mass campaign in the local area, to set a budget based on what is needed and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.

This has been done in the “here and now”. It was the route taken by the Liverpool City Council in the 1980s under Labour control. There have been other examples of councils refusing to pass on attacks from the government to the working class such as Clay Cross in the 1970s and Poplar in the 1920s. Therefore, TUSC is not putting forward “empty rhetoric” but is putting forward a strategy for how we can defeat the cuts and build a movement that can defend our living standards.

We will not reply to the outrageous slurs of us being “self-indulgent, self-serving individuals who positively revel in ordinary people’s misery” as personal insults reflect Councillor Grundy’s lack of an alternative

Unfortunately, in Hucknall many people feel let down by the Labour Party. In Councillor Grundy’s blog, he does not explain why in 2009 two Tory councillors and one UKIP councillor won. We would argue that many people felt disillusioned by both Labour in government and in control of the county council and that people cast a protest vote. What alternative is Labour offering today?