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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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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

‘The stakes are too high for education and for teachers’ Report and pictures from Coventry and Birmingham

‘The stakes are too high for education and for teachers’

Report and pictures from Coventry and Birmingham

Picket at Barrs Hill this morning

Picket at Barrs Hill this morning

Teaching unions NUT and NASUWT took successful strike action today. See this article here for background information .

There were picket lines at various schools across Coventry, followed by a huge regional rally in Birmingham.

Nicky Downes

Nicky Downes

NIcky Downes, Equalities Officer for Coventry NUT (personal capacity) commented

Today saw a successful strike that saw the vast majority of schools closed or predominantly closed. Many teachers went to Birmingham where a march was led by the striking teachers from John Gulson school. One teacher at the rally got a standing ovation for calling for further action until Gove backs down.

Teachers from John Gulson in Coventry lead the march

Teachers from John Gulson in Coventry lead the march

Jane Nellist added

Over 3000 teachers attended a demo and rally in Birmingham city centre on the second of the regional strikes by NUT and NASUWT members. Teachers from across the Midlands joined a lively protest. They applauded and cheered as speakers addressed the rally in the ICC. The attendance exceeded all expectation and an overspill room had to be set up. Teachers were in full agreement with the disastrous impact on education that this government was having.

Jane Nellist on the picket line

Jane Nellist on the picket line

The loudest of all applause was for the  commitment for further strike action. Including the idea of co-ordinated strike action with other unions.

What was clear was that the determination to fight this government, especially of young teachers, was evident. Teachers left clear that they cannot afford to give up this fight-the stakes are too high for education and for teachers.

The protest in Birmingham

The protest in Birmingham

Socialist Party members visited picket lines to show support and bring greetings from their own trade unions, whilst party members in the teaching unions are pushing for a continuation of the battle. We make an appeal to all teachers to consider joining the Socialist Party to help us build the ideas of struggle, solidarity and socialism in the unions. To apply to join click here

From the Archive – a letter sent from Unison stewards in Coventry to Dave Prentis

From the Archive – a letter sent from Unison stewards in Coventry to Dave Prentis

The General Secretary

The General Secretary

We are reproducing this letter from December 2011 sent to Dave Prentis  the General Secretary of Unison, from a group of Unison stewards in Coventry. Unfortunately Dave was too busy to reply. It shows the anger of many Unison activists in the aftermath of a hugely successful day of industrial action, which the leadership of Unison, along with many other unions, proceeded to squander. This is why the Socialist Party is working hard in Unison and other unions to build up a strong, combative Socialist group within the union – in order to help reclaim our unions and to fight capitalist austerity. If you are interested in joining us in this important and vital work please click here 

‘Dear Dave

We wrote to you just before the TUC urging you to call on the TUC to name the date for the next round of industrial action.

We are extremely disappointed that not only has the TUC not named the date for action in early 2012, but that Brendan Barber and possibly also yourself (?) are putting forward that we sign up to an agreement that would merely see the pension changes delayed until 2014, and even that would be on the basis that when it come in, in 2014, that the unions would not protest about it!

This is simply not good enough. We as shop stewards at our work place spent months preparing for 30.11.11 – hours spent in our own time leafleting for a YES vote in the ballot, meetings and more leafleting in our own time to prepare the strike, win public support and to organise pickets.

Our members did us proud, in our office 95 per cent of people supported the strike (only about 7 out of 124 members of staff crossed), we had our biggest ever picket lines and this week we learnt our branch recruited 171 new members!

Our members responded, sacrificed a days pay because of what is at stake. They did that because they rightly supported what the union was doing. We have momentum, we have public support. We are outraged at what appears to be the attempt to sell what can’t even be described as a ‘deal’ to our members. This week our branch unanimously backed a motion calling for the date to be named with a programme of industrial action.

Now is the time to name the date for the next action, not to retreat! If reports that are coming out of the TUC are true, this is completely unacceptable. If the reports are incorrect, you need to publicly state what your position is and what you have been arguing for in the talks.

We would appreciate a response to this email, and would again urge you to do what is in the interests of our membership, and name the date for the next action.

Looking forward to hearing from you’

Coventry City Council plan more cuts – vital services and 140 jobs under threat!

Coventry City Council plan more cuts – vital services and 140 jobs under threat!

No to cuts!

No to cuts!

It has been announced today that Coventry City Council are planning more huge cuts, this time to adult social care. The £6 million of cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable in our city – and see care workers, many of them female, lose their jobs.

According to the Coventry Telegraph (published on their website) the proposals include the following

* Closing the council’s Aylesford residential care home, Primrose Hill Street, Hillfields, used for 26 people needing post-hospital care.

* Privatising the council’s “home support short-term service” for 850 people a year, where carers visit the elderly and disabled in their homes.

* Closing either Jack Ball House in Potters Green, or George Rowley House, Canley. They are “housing with care” bedsit-style schemes for 23 long-term residents each with “critical” or “substantial” care needs.

* Ending elderly day care services at Frank Walsh House, Hillfields, and Risen Christ, Wyken Croft, and moving users to Gilbert Richards Centre in Earlsdon, described as a “better facility”.

* Ending two day services for adults with learning difficulties – at Curriers Close, Canley; and Whatcombe Close, Henley Green – with services moved to Frank Walsh House.

* Reducing dementia day services at Maymorn Centre, Holbrooks, from seven to five days a week.

* Cutting council on-site housing wardens, grants for community alarms, and other “housing-related support” to external providers of sheltered or private accommodation, where elderly or disabled people are deemed to have lower-level social care needs.

* Cutting grants to charities – such as Coventry Carers Centre, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society – which provide information and support.

* Cutting subsidised transport to day centres.

* Selling the previously planned new Broad Lane site for the council-run Eric Williams House for dementia patients, which would remain at Brookside Avenue, Whoberley

Labour leader of the Council Ann Lucas has stated that they are carrying out the Tory government’s cuts with ‘a heavy heart’ and this theme was repeated by Cllr Alison Gingell in a radio interview. However this is unlikely to be of any consolation to those bearing the brunt of these cuts and who face a very uncertain future.

Labour could fight the cuts – but have chosen not to

The Labour Council are in position, with a big majority, to rally support across the city for a fightback against both these cuts to adult social care and the cuts in general. As a Unison representative correctly pointed out on local radio this evening, they should be demanding more money from central government. Of course the government is not just going to say ‘Ok then, here is more money.’ It will take a battle and a fight. We might not win. However it is surely better than passing on this Tory brutality to the people of Coventry.

A consultation will be starting shortly. The people of Coventry must make their views known. However, the likelihood is that the Council will plough ahead with these attacks – so the three council trade unions, Unison, Unite and GMB need to start discussing with members about the sort of course that we will need to take. This should include putting on the agenda the very real possibility and neccessity of industrial action.

Political response

There also needs to be a political response. Again and again Labour are attacking our union members and the most vulnerable. There needs to be debate in all of the three unions about why we continue to fund a Labour Party that is so willing to carry out the bidding of the Tories and whether they deserve the support of unions in the local elections next year.

We will carry further comment and reports as we receive them.

 

 

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.”

 

Picket line on Day 13 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Picket line on Day 13 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Teachers belonging to the NUT and NASUWT took their thirteenth day of industrial action today against unfair appraisals and excessive observations. The Socialist Party was there to show support and solidarity for the teachers.

The picket line on Day 13

The picket line on Day 13

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

 

 

Photos from Day 9 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Photos from Day 9 of strike at John Gulson Primary School

Here we publish some photos from Day 9 of the strike. The Socialist Party fully supports the action of the NUT and NASUWT.

Dave Nellist visits picket line to show support

Dave Nellist visits picket line to show support

NUT and NASUWT picket

NUT and NASUWT picket

 

Day 7 of strike at John Gulson

Day 7 of strike at John Gulson

Photo of pickets today at John Gulson

Photo of pickets today at John Gulson

The strike at John Gulson Primary School entered the 7th day today. The Socialist Party will continue to support the action of the NUT and NASUWT.