Tag Archives: pcs
The meeting will have PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka and NUT Dept General Secretary (and lead pensions negotiator for the NUT) speaking on the platform as well as a private sector pensions striker from Unilever speaking too.
Thursday 26th January, 6:30pm, Council Chamber, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B1 1BB
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS, has confirmed to speak at the rally following the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration on Sunday 18th September.
Mark has been one of the best received speakers over the past 6 months, and it will be great to have him here in Birmingham on the platform of this demonstration.
PCS have been active locally in fighting cuts, and were one of the unions on strike on the 30th June, defending public sector pensions and services, and we are sure they will be well represented on 18th September. You can read about their proposed alternatives to the cuts here
Mark Serwotka speaking at the March for the Alternative on March 26th.
The next planning meeting for the Lib Dem conference is on Saturday 6th August, 11am, at Unison Offices, 19th Floor, McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, B4 7NN. This will be followed by street stalls & leafletting from many of the groups involved in building this demonstration.
So many events, so many photos.. more than enough to make a second post.. so here we are! (First post is here)
Solidarity from other groups
Handsworth Against the Cuts
With thanks for the photos to:
@JhonCooper – Flickr Set
DPAC – Flickr Set
Jo Stevenson from Handsworth Against the Cuts
John Cooper – Flickr Set
Thursday 30th June (dubbed J30) saw mass strikes around the UK from NUT, ATL, UCU and PCS Unions over pensions. In Birmingham we also had UNISON members striking – council workers out because of pay cuts and changes to conditions, and Connexions members out over job cuts. With hundreds of pickets, 14 feeder demos and the main strike rally & march, there is far too much to cover in a word report, so here are pictures from the day (A second post of pictures is found here
Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
8,000 people on the March
I’m afraid I don’t recognise most of these people, and I wasn’t there this afternoon – so if anyone can fill in the blanks, I’d be grateful – Just tell me in a comment
Chris Hughes from Strichley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
Tommorow sees mass public sector strikes, and Birmingham will see some of the largest strikes, as teachers and civil servants are joined by council workers and connexions to strike for the alternative.
Over the last few days, final preparations have taken place for the hundreds of pickets, demos and rallies that will happen tomorrow. I have been trying to get as much information as possible and map out the actions so you know where you can go – at the moment there are over 70 actions listed around Birmingham, but this is by no means a complete list.
Have a look at the map to see what is happening near you, join a picket line in the morning (if there’s none shown near you, I’ve probably just missed it – PCS should be out at all Job Centre’s, and UNISON council workers will probably be picketing all the leisure centres).
Join one of the UNISON demos at 10am, UCU at Bournville College at 9:15, Connexions on Broad Street at 10:45 or the rallies in Wolverhampton and Stourbridge which will all converge on Victoria Square at 12noon for a huge regional strike rally, with national and local speakers from all the unions and groups involved.
Over the last few days, unions and activists have been working hard to build Thursdays’ events, and to take the argument for the alternative to parents, members of the public and of course the workers themselves.
From door-to-door leafletting and street stalls to the Unite The Resistance meeting last night, hard work has been going to make sure that tomorrow is a huge carnival of resistance to the ConDem’s austerity agenda, and the next stage in the struggle against cuts after March 26th’s March for the Alternative.
At the Unite The Resistance meeting last night, which close to 100 people attended, we heard from Alan Whittaker – past president of UCU – who spoke about how much teachers will be losing if the pension changes come in. For a teacher aged 25, the total loss over 25 years of retirement will be nearly £300,000. Even for those nearing retirement, the loss will be in the tens of thousands of pounds.
Alan told us how in 2007 the teachers pension scheme was audited and was in good stead, and how there is no reason other than ideology to make the changes to pensions the government are proposing.
Talking about the anti-cuts movment, he said
This Thursday we are going to see [the British revolt] come to life with a vengeance
On Thursday, we are sending a message to the government that we will not pay for a crisis we did not cause
She told us how both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee say that civil service pensions are both affordable and sustainable – much like the teachers pensions, and that money saved will not go to make pensions affordable in the future, but will be going to pay off the deficit that was not caused by civil servants.
Sue then outlined some of the alternatives that are supported by PCS and the TUC – closing the tax gap (£120bn of tax avoidance, evasion and uncollected tax each year – enough to cover the whole of the deficit) & investment in jobs and growth (in particular green jobs in the manufacturing sector).
Calling for unity, and crediting the students and UK Uncut for inspiring the cuts movement and the unions to take action, see said that the private sector should not be divided from the public sector – “we want quality pensions for all”, and called for everyone to “rise like Lions and win”, finishing by saying
We defend every single job and oppose every single cut
Caroline Johnson from Birmingham City Council UNISON talked of the devastating changes the council are trying to force onto council workers. She told us how people are facing huge pay cuts and also savage changes to conditions, which mean the council will be able to tell them to work any job on their pay grade, at any location in the city, at any times (including evening, weekend and unsociable hours).
Sheila, a care assistant currently earning £18,404 will lose £4,741. Aleena, a part-time cleaner earning just £3,087 will lose a whopping £847. Donna, a home care assitant on £14,829 will see her pay cut by £2,210 and Jeanette, who is part-time, earning £10,168 will lost £4,453. Meanwhile, those who are above a grade 4 will not see their pay cut at all – in fact the only thing they are going to lose is their car parking space.
These pay cuts will only save £10m from the council budget so it’s not about saving money – the council spent £60million last year on private sector consultants – so called “experts” who come in to advise on “savings” (otherwise known as advising the council on how to give more money to private sector companies like Capita). These pay cuts and condition changes are about setting the council’s services up for privatisation.
Calling for support for the council workers, Caroline said:
We are losing all this, and our pensions
She said she was very pleased to be striking alongside other unions on Thursday, that their members are concerned about going it alone, but they know that over the summer they will have to do that. She does not think the council will back down easily and anticipates further strikes over the summer and autumn to prevent the imposition of this disgusting contract in November.
People were all in the same boat in the titanic, but if you were in first class you got on a lifeboat. If you were in steerage you drowned
Like other speakers, Kevin talked about tax avoidance, calling Philip Green (who in 2005 paid his wife £1.2billion, avoiding £285million in tax) “astonishingly avaricious”. He said that the pensions fight is a dispute that teachers can win, and that if we do score a victory it will change the dynamic of the anti-cuts movement.
He said that the government has completely lost the confidence of the teaching proffesion, pointing out that ATL have never balloted for strike action in 125 years, but they got an 83% vote for strike, and the fact that a heads union will ballot for strike shows how badly the government have misjudged the mood of the teachers. He also said that this could not just be about teachers for them, but about all public sector pensions.
Saying that “the cuts are completely without justification”, Kevin explained how in negotiations, the government would not justify their position. When asked why the pensions are changing from RPI to CPI, the government simply said “we think it is appropriate” without explaining why it is appropriate, or why they will use RPI for student loans. He said the government produce no arguments – that this is simply an attack on public sector workers.
Kevin finished by saying that this is a choice between whether you give in or whether you fight
On this Thursday we start the fight to defend our pensions and to strike for the alternitve to cuts and job losses
There was then time for discussion from the floor, and people were keen to link up the strikes to the wider fights against cuts, austerity and neo-liberalism. Various things were mentioned, including the decision by Connexions to join the strike on Thursday, and the demonstrations that will take place for the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham (18th Sept) and the Tory conference in Manchester (2nd Oct).
This Thursday, the fight back continues – what started with the Tory conference march in Birmingham in October last year, and was given a huge boost by the student demonstrations in November and December, and groups like UK Uncut, through the March for the Alternative, local council cut and mayday demonstrations and will not just continue but grow and spread tomorrow. J30 will be a date to remember.
All photos (c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Publications. More photos from the Unite The Resistance meeting can be seen here
Speakers at the meeting include:
Kevin Courtney – Deputy General Secretary of NUT
Sue Bond – PCS Vice President
Alan Whittaker – UCU Past President.
The meeting runs from 7:30pm at the council house, and everyone who wants to help to make June 30th the biggest day so far in the struggle against cuts and the austerity agenda, and to help fight for public services and the alternative, is welcome to attend.
UNISON today announced that it’s council workers will be on strike on the 30th, this is shaping up to be the largest strike in recent history.
We have already reported that teachers and civil servants voted for strikes in national ballots that could see over 500,000 public sector workers on strike over pensions. The best way to keep up with what is happening around the country is J30strike.org or on twitter as @J30Strike.
Locally the strike is set to be huge, with the addition of up to 9,000 council workers. As well as that UCU members at Birmingham City University and in the Birmingham Adult Education Service have previously been balloted for strike and will join in on the 30th June.
I will be endeavouring to get a list of pickets and other activities around Birmingham on the 30th, and mapping them out on this page
There will be a huge, regional, strike rally in Birmingham, assembling at 12noon in Victoria Square. Invite people to the facebook event. Strikers from around the West Midlands will come to the city centre of Birmingham for the rally, with workers in Wolverhampton holding a rally from 10:45-11:15am and then coming into Birmingham en masse.
With so many workers on strike, this rally should number in the thousands, and will march around the city centre.
Speakers at the rally include Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secratary of the NUT), Hugh Lanning (Deputy General Secretary of PCS) and Michael McNeil (UCU Head of HE). We expect to have confirmation on speakers from ATL and UNISON as well. There will also be local speakers from all the unions involved and someone from Birmingham Against the Cuts.
We call for everyone who can to attend the rally. If you work, can you book a day of annual leave, or come an join us in your lunch hour? If you are a student, benefit claimant, pensioner, parent or anyone else who is not working on that day, come and attend. Make this about the cuts, and austerity in general and not just about the specific strike actions on that day. This strike is part of the anti-cuts movement – obviously and directly in the case of UNISON, and although the pensions question has been ongoing since before the crisis, the way in which the ConDem’s are seeking to change public sector pensions (whilst leaving MPs’ pensions alone of course) fits directly with the austerity programme, and the wider anti-public services ideology that pervades this coalition.
Show the strikers that they have your support. I will by posting a post sometime this week with more of the arguments as to why public sector worker pensions should matter to private sector workers, or people who don’t work. You can read some of it in the posts about the Teachers and Civil Servants strike decision.
In the case of UNISON it’s pretty simple – huge cuts in pay and big changes in condition for workers cannot improve the services provided by the council, who are also cutting funding by a whopping £212million this year. As council services degrade, the ideology of the ruling parties suggest to me that they will look to outsource those services to the private sector, probably with similar results to the childrens homes (in short: costs more for a worse service).
They are striking to defend public services. The dispute they can raise is about pensions, pay and terms and conditions. With attacks on the unions coming from politicians, it is important that we show the strikers that they have our support. So parents, if your school is closing on the 30th June, why not bring your kids along to the rally.
61% voted in favour of strikes, with 83% voting in favour of action short of a strike. This is an excellent mandate for action, although it falls short of the 92% yes vote from NUT members. It shows us that the mood for resistance is their amongst public sector workers.
In Birmingham, we wait now for the result from Unison who are balloting 9,000 council workers for strikes on the 29th and 30th June to find out just how big the strike will be on that day locally.
Like the teachers, PCS members are taking industrial action over changes to the pension scheme, which will see them contribute more, work longer and get less once they retire.
Cuts to pensions form just one part of the attack on public services being carried out by this government, and this action is taken in the context of the austerity agenda being foisted on this country by an ideological government committed to neo-liberalism and a small state, and perfectly happy to let vulnerable people fend for themselves instead of us all working together to provide the best life for everyone.
The right wing press have already been running articles designed to soften the support for these strikes. They portray strikers as selfish public sector workers, who have already got it so goodbut aren’t content with that. They compare the “gold-plated” public sector pensions (average around £4,000 per year) to the poor private sector provision.
We need to be prepared to defend striking workers here – not in terms of the workers, but in terms of everyone else.
Thise strikes are being undertaken to defend services – an attack on the pay and conditions of public sector workers is an attack on the services themselves, as reducing the rewards for a job disincentivises it. We need to be arguing against making this a race to the bottom when we hear people talking about how public sector pensions are so great and why should they have it so good when the rest of us are suffering. And it is clearly not fair that public sector workers often have better pensions than private sector workers – but the answer to that is not to make public sector pensions worse, it is to improve private sector pensions.
The cuts are not inevitable. There are alternatives. These strikes are part of the wider struggle against austerity and need to be seen as such. The money is around, the wealthiest thousand people continued to rack up wealth last year, whilst working class people lose jobs and face pay freezes or cuts, and welfare reforms that seek to be removing the final safety nets in our society. We need to resist the cuts and make sure that the agenda changes. Join us on the 30th June to continue this struggle.