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Labour Council to pass on more Tory austerity to the people of Coventry

Labour Council to pass on more Tory austerity to the people of Coventry

Punish them in the May local elections

Oppose austerity

Oppose austerity

The following article was written by a trade union activist and is taken from Issue 18 of the Cov Council Socialist – a workplace bulletin produced by members and supporters of the Socialist Party in the council trade unions.

On Tuesday 25th February, Coventry City Council will vote through a budget that will see more jobs lost, more services cut and will be a further blow to the people of our city.

The Labour council has put up no resistance to this vicious Tory government since 2010. Unfortunately Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have committed any future Labour government to austerity and Tory spending plans, meaning whichever the establishment parties gets in to power nationally, the cuts will continue.

No doubt at the meeting of the full council, councillors will say how sorry they are to make these cuts. However this is of little use to those workers being asked to do more for less money, for those made redundant, or those members of the public who can’t access vital services any more.

They will say they have no choice. This is not true! They could choose to resist the government. The council has tens of millions in reserves. These should be used to hold off the cuts, to buy time for a mass campaign to be built linking up with other councils to demand more money from the government. It has been done before, for example in Liverpool in the 1980s where the council won more money from Thatcher.

However Labour do not want to do this, as they see no alternative to austerity.

In the May elections, there will be the chance for Coventry people to vote for an anti cuts, socialist alternative. The Socialist Party will again be standing in all 18 seats, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). This will include Dave Nellist standing in St Michaels. TUSC will be standing in over 400 seats across the country which will be the biggest left of Labour challenge for generations.

In the last local elections in 2012, Socialist Alternative came third behind Labour and Tories in the total city wide vote with 3401, beating the Greens, UKIP, BNP and the Liberal Democrats. Help us build on that

Consider supporting the Socialists with your vote. But we also need much more help – can you do any of the following?

–          Sign our nomination papers

–          Display a poster

–          Donate

–          Help leaflet your street / area

–          Support the campaign on social media

–          Consider joining the Socialist Party

For more information on the above and to volunteer for our campaign, please email coventrysocialists@googlemail.com

You can also visit our main Coventry website by clicking here

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Council Unions lodge dispute with the employers over pay claim – time to prepare for action!

Council Unions lodge dispute with the employers over pay claim – time to prepare for action!

Unite, Unison, GMB

Unite, Unison, GMB

By a council worker in Coventry

News is coming out that the three council unions – Unite, GMB and Unison, have lodged a formal dispute with the local government employers over the 2014/15 pay claim.

According to Unison, the employers have cancelled any further talks as they want to wait to see what the new minimum wage will be. The minimum wage is due to be increased in October of this year.

This is a complete insult to local government workers – our pay has fallen by 18 per cent since 2010 if you take inflation in to account.

Last year we got a measly 1 per cent increase, which in real terms was a pay cut. After the Coalition came in to power, all public sector workers earning under £21,000 were supposed to get a £250 payment. The local government employers refused to pay this. Our local Labour council, despite budgeting for this payment, scandalously refused to pay.

We are suffering  massive cuts with worse to come. We are doing more for less pay. That rule doesn’t seem to apply to the bankers or the politicians though!

The leaderships of the three council unions need to give a lead. The employers have made it abundantly clear that they will not be meeting our claim of an increase of £1.20 per hour. We need to prepare for action. Now is the time to fight. This isn’t just about pay but about jobs and indeed the whole future of public services.

In October, we wrote

‘Members and activists within the 3 unions need to discuss how we can win a decent pay rise. We need to link the fight for a decent pay rise to that of saving jobs and services as they are very much part of the same battle. We saw on 30th November 2011 that when the unions co-ordinate their action, the fantastic effect that had on members. It was only the decision of the leaderships of the big unions to end the strike action that destroyed the momentum that had been built up. That can’t be allowed to happen again.’

Recent years have unfortunately shown that the old adage ‘weakness invites aggression’ to be true, as a lack of a national fightback from the leaderships of Unison, Unite and GMB to defends jobs and services has only encouraged further attacks on our members.

The employer needs to know that the unions are serious about fighting this latest attack – lets follow the lead of unions like the RMT who have shown that action gets results.

–          Fight for the full pay claim

–          No to attacks on jobs and services

–          Prepare for nationally co-ordinated action

Local Government pay claim – No more ice sculptures should die in vain

Local Government pay claim – No more ice sculptures should die in vain

Time for co-ordinated action!

From this........

It paid the ultimate sacrifice

By a Coventry council worker

The three trade unions representing council workers have agreed the pay claim.

The GMB website states

‘GMB, UNISON and Unite, the three unions representing 1.6 local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on 16th October agreed to launch a major campaign for a minimum increase of £1 an hour to increase the bottom rate of pay in local government to raise it to a living wage hourly rate. The unions are calling for the same £1 an hour increase to also apply to all pay points above the bottom rate.’

Council workers, like all other sections of the working class, have seen our standard of living drop, as prices rise and our wages have nowhere near kept up with it. Year after year we are getting worse off. The latest announcements about the increase in utility prices underline the situation.

It is estimated that since 2008 we have lost 16 per cent in real earnings. Things need to change, or more and more council workers will be joining the queues at the local foodbanks.

So now the claim has gone in. What will happen now? Clearly the employers are not going to give it to us. The claim will need to be fought for. It seems year after year the union leaderships have put in claims, but haven’t really believed in them, and certainly haven’t had the guts to fight for it.

Little wonder that in the consultation meetings with members over the claim there was more than a degree of cynicism. Will our union leaderships fight? As one Unison member said in one meeting

‘Our negotiators need to show some testicular fortitude’.

This sums up the mood of many union members. After a truly lacklustre campaign last time where we ended up accepting 1 per cent, feelings of many were summed up by a union activist who commented at the time

‘How I feel about it is anger stabbed in the back shafted by my union because it’s the best deal they can get. 1% of nothing is crap and they have got a cheek to try and get new members because they are the union that gets things done! This is false advertising…..action is what’s needed not bull shit.’

This is how many activists have felt. It is in the context of the pensions dispute of 2011, and a general lack of a national strategy to defend jobs and services that frustration has grown.

The acceptance of the 1 per cent pay offer was after Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said we were going to ‘smash’ the pay freeze, destroying an ice sculpture in the process to illustrate our campaign. Unfortunately it did not live up expectations.

Members and activists within the 3 unions need to discuss how we can win a decent pay rise. We need to link the fight for a decent pay rise to that of saving jobs and services as they are very much part of the same battle. We saw on 30th November 2011 that when the unions co-ordinate their action, the fantastic effect that had on members. It was only the decision of the leaderships of the big unions to end the strike action that destroyed the momentum that had been built up. That can’t be allowed to happen again.

A number of unions are beginning to take action across different sectors. For example the CWU, FBU, NUT / NASUWT, UCU etc. Now is the time for the trade unions to co-ordinate the various disputes and name the day for joint action, for a 24 hour general strike.

The capitalist crisis has not gone away and we as members are suffering. The situation is even worse for whole swathes of unemployed workers, the youth, the sick and the elderly. We have to fight back now. To not lead a fightback now would be an abdication of responsibility. Socialist Party members in the trade unions will be building support for a strategy that can win a pay rise and can defeat the cuts, whilst at the same time building support for a socialist opposition to capitalism.

Help us in this task by joining the Socialist Party – click here

Thousands march through city to ‘Keep Cov in Cov’

Thousands march through city to ‘Keep Cov in Cov’

The crowd leaves Gosford Green

The crowd leaves Gosford Green

Up to 7,000 people marched through Coventry on Saturday 20th July in protest against the recent decision to move Coventry City F.C’s home games over 30 miles away to Northampton. Though predominantly Coventry fans, there were also supporters from AFC Wimbledon, Middlesbrough, Ipswich Town, Chelsea and Liverpool who attended to show support.

The march nears the University

The march nears the University

The march started on Gosford Green, close to the Sky Blue’s former home at Highfield Road and following 2 modern day Lady Godivas on horseback, proceeded to make its way to the City Centre along Sky Blue Way. The size of the protest could be seen by the fact that the front of the march reached the end point whilst the back was still near the beginning!

Anger at the Football League

Anger at the Football League

Fans old and young attended the protest – there was anger and dismay, evidenced in the massive turnout but also in the chants and homemade posters and banners that had been made such as ‘SISU OUT’ (SISU is the hedge fund that many blame for the current situation)  ’49 years a season ticket holder – kicked out of CCFC by SISU’ and ‘Real football for real fans except in Coventry thanks to the weak Judas Football League’. 

Another banner from Coventry International / Diverse supporters invited the Football League to grow some (specific body part!) in 9 different languages which summed up the feeling of many.

Fans telling it how it is

Dave Nellist was invited to address the final rally in Broadgate Square.  Dave pointed out that back in 2003 it was the 3 Socialist Party Cllrs who had the casting vote over whether the new Ricoh Arena would be built. He went on to explain how the Socialists moved an amendment which was passed to guarantee jobs for people in the city, and any profit made from sales of land should go back in to services to care for the old and young of Coventry.

Dave Nellist

However, Dave pointed out that looking back a mistake had been made. We should have moved an amendment that ensured that the fans had a representative on the Board, as they do in many other countries. Dave went on to point out to rapturous applause that whilst in other countries there are clubs owned by the fans, we have here a situation where a hedge fund that lives offshore is only interested in raking as much profit as possible from the people of Coventry.

Messages of support came from fans groups across the country, including from Bristol City supporters, who stated they are planning to boycott their away game against Coventry (in Northampton) on the first day of the new season.

Crowds almost at Broadgate

Socialist Party members were on the protest, selling a number of Reclaim the Game pamphlets, and advertising a forthcoming meeting in Coventry on the issue of football and big business. See details below.

The tragedy that has hit Coventry City FC is a perfect example of how these unaccountable profit hungry parasites such as SISU directly impact on working class communities and attack the traditions and culture of ordinary people. They must be stopped and discussions need to take place about how we can get fan and community ownership of football and sport in general.

 

Meeting – Football and Big Business

John Reid author of Reclaim the Game

Monday, 19th August, 7.30pm SQ Club, Whitefriars Lane, Coventry, CV1 2DT

 

Former Labour MP Dave Nellist – a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage

Former Labour MP Dave Nellist – a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage

Dave Nellist speaking in support of working class peopple

Dave Nellist speaking in support of working class people

There has been much publicity over the past few days regarding the prospect of MPs taking a massive pay rise at a time of massive cuts and when most workers have seen falling living standards. Council workers were offered just 1 per cent! However this episode underlines again the principled stand taken by Dave Nellist whilst he was an MP – he only took the average wage of a skilled worker, donating the rest to local campaigns, strike funds, charities etc. What a contrast to the MPs of today who have claimed enormous expenses whilst supporting never ending cuts for ordinary people. He was an embarrassment to the Labour Party because he showed  most other MPs up for what they are – career seeking place men and women with barely a principle to share between them

Whilst an MP and then later a Councillor, Dave was a firm supporter of council workers and trade unionists in the city.  As the article below states which is taken from the BBC website, he is still an active member of the Socialist Party and continues to support the trade unions and the fight for socialism. We urge you to consider joining the Socialist Party to help rebuild working class political representation and organisation in Coventry and beyond. If you would like to join, click here 

The link to the article is here

Dave Nellist: The Coventry MP who gave away half his pay

Dave Nellist
Dave Nellist is still an active member of the Socialist Party
As many MPs rush to condemn proposals to give them an 11% pay rise, few have taken the lead of the former member for Coventry South.

From his election in 1983 to his deselection by Labour in 1992, Dave Nellist kept less than half his salary.

Along with two other Labour politicians – Terry Fields, MP for Liverpool Broadgreen, and Pat Wall, MP for Bradford North – Mr Nellist chose to “get by” on a wage closer to that of the people he represented.

Mr Nellist, now 60 and still an active member of the Socialist Party, was unemployed for the six months before he was elected, but had worked in a factory for many years.

He would only accept the average wage of a skilled factory worker in Coventry, which amounted to 46% of his salary as an MP.

Each year the remaining 54% was donated to charitable and political causes.

‘Want for nothing’

Mr Nellist said he saw his political career as being akin to that of a union rep in a factory.

“At the time time, we were going into the [MP] job like a convenor in a factory, we had the time to do the job but not three times the wage or holidays,” he said.

“The engineering union used to work out the returns of all the factories in Coventry and averaged their wages – equivalent to £28,000 or £29,000 nowadays – so that was what I took home.

“I accepted every penny of the full salary, but as the Labour Party we gave away roughly £35,000 [per year in today’s money] to help the families of miners in the 80s, community groups, pensioners.”

He said receiving less money did not damage “the responsibility” he had to his family and he was very proud of the way his children grew up.

“They didn’t want for anything. We went camping as a family for two weeks every year – and still do – like many people.

“I came off factory wages and into that job on the same. I’ve never had anything different so you don’t miss what you’ve not had.”

Mr Nellist added that as a Coventry City Councillor for 12 years until 2012, he continued to take home the same wage by reducing the hours of his full time job at an advice agency.

He dismissed the idea that the more someone is paid, the more they will achieve.

“Why should MPs be any better? How many millions have we been paying the bankers, how many millions do we pay footballers?

“I don’t accept the idea that those prepared to live the same life as their constituents are going to be any less representative.”

Pay rise ‘bung’

On Thursday the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said salaries should increase to £74,000 by 2015, but perks should be cut and pensions made less generous, something Mr Nellist described as “scandalous”.

“The suggestion by [Ipsa chairman] Sir Ian Kennedy that the pay rise would be a way of keeping MPs from claiming more expenses is frankly amazing – I was almost lost for words,” he said.

“It’s basically saying they’ll get a bung on their salary as a way of keeping them in line.”

 Mr Nellist believes public representatives like councillors and MPs should be able to empathise with the people affected by political decisions.

“With a 9% average fall in people’s earnings, MPs should not be getting a rise – it insulates them from those day to day problems like food and fuel which have rocketed.

“Millions have to get by on much less [than MPs] so that is why we should pay them so they share the pain and the gain.”

Mr Nellist fears the impact of the proposed pay increase for MPs will add to a perceived disconnect between the public and politicians.

“I think it will contribute to a growing disillusion in politics and politicians in general – at a time when millions are having it very tough, those people who may lose their jobs could become very angry if this happens.

“The best people go into politics to do a proper job and to represent the people, not for the money.”

 

Pictures from Day 10 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Pictures from Day 10 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Teachers belonging to the NUT and NASUWT took their 10th day of industrial action today against an unfair appraisal process and excessive observations. Here are some pictures from the picket line. Once again Socialist Party attended to show support. We urge people from across Coventry and beyond to continue their support for the teachers who are standing up for education.

Picket line today

Picket line today

Socialist Party member supporting the strike

Socialist Party member supporting the strike

Solid picket

Solid picket

 

 

Coventry protest says ‘Defend education!’

Coventry protest says ‘Defend education’

The protest outside the Department for Education

The protest outside the Department for Education

A protest took place this evening outside the offices of the Department for Education in Coventry. It was organised by the NUT with other unions also in attendance, including NASUWT, Unison, Unite and Coventry TUC. The Socialist Party were also present. It coincided with industrial action  by teachers taking place in the North West today.

Pictures from Day 6 of strike action at John Gulson

Pictures from Day 6 of Industrial Action at John Gulson

Today has seen the 6th day of industrial action at John Gulson Primary School, involving the NUT and NASUWT against unfair appraisals and excessive observations. Socialist Party members visited the picket line to show support. Please ensure messages of support continue to be sent to the following email addresses montyhaul@hotmail.com and coventry.nut@btconnect.com

NUT and NASUWT picket line

NUT and NASUWT picket line

NUT joint secretary Jane Nellist speaks to the media

NUT joint secretary Jane Nellist speaks to the media

Trade union banners

Trade union banners

 

 

Teachers take fourth and fifth day of strike action – support needed

Teachers  at John Gulson take fourth and fifth day of strike action this week – support needed

Teachers lobby Coventry City Council today

Teachers lobby Coventry City Council today

Members of the NUT and NASUWT at John Gulson Primary School today took their fourth day of strike action against excessive observations and an unfair appraisal policy. Tomorrow, Wednesday 12th June, they will take their fifth day of action. Teachers organised a lobby of Labour Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr David Kershaw and Coventry City Council.  They were supported by members of the Socialist Party, Unite, and Coventry TUC.

Please continue to send messages of support in to the teachers using the email addresses below.

montyhaul@hotmail.com and coventry.nut@btconnect.com

 

Interview with Dave Auger – newly elected member of UNISON NEC for the West Midlands

Interview with Dave Auger (in a personal capacity) – newly elected member of UNISON NEC for the West Midlands

We are pleased to announce that Socialist Party member Dave Auger has been elected to the UNISON National Executive Council, standing for the West Midlands Male Seat. He received 2834 to the 2556 votes of the incumbent. In this interview for our website, Dave, who is speaking in a personal capacity outlines why he stood and the sort of union he will fight for. Socialist Party supporters in UNISON congratulate Dave on this excellent victory; let us carry on with the fight for a fighting, democratic Unison.

Dave Auger speaks to Unison conference

Dave Auger speaks to Unison conference

 

Many stewards in the Coventry area campaigned for you, helping to give out your election literature, and no doubt persuaded people to vote for you. What would you like to say to them?

Dave A – Firstly, obviously to thank stewards who worked for my election and those who voted for me.

In my election address I did make the point that unlike a lot of elected NEC members , who you never see again, I am always available to attend your branch meetings , both to tell you what is going on nationally , but also to hear your concerns and issues

As part of the Reclaim the Union slate, you ran a campaign that was critical of the current national leadership of Unison. Can you explain a bit more about the sort of programme you were putting forward?

I have been critical of the current leadership, but have always believed it is not enough to be critical. If you believe as I do that they are not representing members then they need to be challenged, which is why I put myself forward.

The key word at the moment is recruitment and I agree on its importance. But workers join a union because it offers something and that is not just cheap insurance and holidays.

Council workers are afraid of losing their jobs , attacks on their terms and conditions and just as importantly services that they take a pride in providing.

They want a union that will fight to defend these things , which will give leadership to that fight.

What we have currently is a leadership that when it suits ‘talks the talk ‘ but never ‘walks the walk’. It invariably leads us up the hill only to lead us back down , whilst seeking to convince us that we have won or the membership are not up for a fight.

It does all this because it is wedded to the Labour Party, what they call a ‘link’ is actually a millstone which prevents us taking concerted action in case it embarrasses the Labour Party or challenges their own role in service cuts.

On issues such as pay, you were one of those who called for outright rejection of the 1 per cent offer. Where do you think the union are going wrong on issues such as pay and previously pensions?

The vote on the pay offer is a perfect example, the committee which makes the recommendation went from a unanimous stance of opposition to the offer to voting to make no recommendation. They said members were not up for a fight and were very defeatist.

Those who voted to recommend rejection did so on the basis that what members needed was leadership and encouragement ,that not only should it be rejected and action taken , but that not to do so would seriously weaken our union when we are under concerted attacks by government and employers.

How should we be responding to the massive jobs losses being proposed in local government and the public sector in general?

Employers have never welcomed unions with open arms , they have always accepted unions because they know the power we have can bring them to their knees. If we continue to surrender terms and conditions and services, they will just come back for more.

We have to fight and yes we have to convince many of our members who think keeping their heads down , that our continued existence depends on our fighting.

What experience, ideas and policies will you be bringing to the NEC? How long have you been an active trade unionist, tell us more about what branch you are from, your positions etc.

Dave supports striking PCS members

Dave supports striking PCS members

I have been a trade unionist for 40 years , I joined when I started work at 17.

I became politically active 30 years ago . I have been involved in many of the battles of the last 30 years both a trade unionist and community activist.

For the last 12 years I have been full-time deputy branch secretary of my branch which has a membership of 5500. So (without blowing my trumpet – tongue I cheek) I have a wide experience of representing and fighting for members and negotiating with employers. I am also the Regional International Officer because international solidarity is central to our work as trade unionists.

What is your view of the current situation, with regards to the Labour Link?

I have no problem with UNISON members being members of the Labour Party, I know some very good ones. However the Labour Link has a control over the union which I believe is unhealthy and produces many of the problems I have already outlined. But why should we be supporting a party which is responsible for many of the attacks on us?

Their control is such that you can find yourself in the nonsensical situation as a branch where you are affiliated to your local Labour Party, at a time when that same Labour Party as your council employer is attacking your members jobs and services!

You are a member of the Socialist Party and very open about your political affiliation. Can you tell us why you are a member and why you would urge Unison members and council workers in general to think about joining the Socialist Party?

I joined the Labour Party in 1981 with the naive impression that this was the party of the working class. It quickly became apparent that this was not the case!

I quickly became a member of Militant (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) because only they among the Left in the Labour Party were serious about fighting for the working class and recognised that only a socialist society could achieve this. Since I and many others were  expelled the Labour Party has drifted further to the right . Since those days I have always found the position  of the Socialist Party to be generally spot on in terms of both perspectives and tactics.

I would encourage all workers to consider joining the Socialist Party.

Thank you for your time Dave, and best of luck

If you agree with us, why not join the Socialist Party? Click here