Birmingham Race Impact Summit Wed 25 May at Aston Students’ Union (8 Coleshill St, B4 7BX) 09:30 to 17:00

The inaugural Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG) Summit comes to the city on the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder on Wednesday 25 May 2022.

Despite Birmingham now being a minority majority city – where people from minority ethnicities make up the majority of the population – Black, Asian and marginalised communities face disproportionately worse education, employment, health and housing outcomes when compared to their white counterparts. It is now more important than ever to tackle these issues. Continue reading

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Birmingham SEND caseloads hit over 500 children per worker

We reprint with thanks this article by Tom Belger from Schools Week 287, 20 May 2022, because it shows how the  Government’s cuts in education funding and attacks on the powers of local authorities, compounded by the shortcomings of Birmingham Council itself, are hitting hardest at those most in need of support. It’s an issue where parents and young people, workers and their unions, community organisations and the Council itself need to unite to fight back, not just to put right the immediate problems SEND provision but against the whole relentless Tory onslaught on education in Birmingham.

(Another parallel campaign is to defend Catholic local authority schools against the decision by the Catholic archdiocese of Birmingham to compel them to become Academies, doing the Government’s work for it of destroying locally democratic and accountable school systems. See Birmingham SEA Facebook 9 February.)

A government commissioner parachuted in to run special educational needs and disabilities services in Birmingham found that caseloads hit more than 500 children per worker, concluding that the place of vulnerable youngsters has become “unclear, if not lost”. Continue reading

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BIRMINGHAM RACE EQUALITY MANIFESTO

A person’s “race” or skin colour can never define who anybody is but, sadly, in the world we live in, these are factors which do affect the socio-economic status and the life-chances of us citizens of Birmingham. This is a superdiverse city, especially in terms of race, nationality, religion, belief and culture (The 2021 Census is likely to confirm more than half city’s population is of Black, Asian or Minority ethnic origin, as 65% of our school children are already).

After the May local elections, what should the city’s citizens expect from councillors old and new? BRIG, the Birmingham Race Impact Group, suggests that all political parties and councillors adopt the proposals set out below.

BIRMINGHAM RACE EQUALITY MANIFESTO

  1. Make Birmingham the first Anti-Racist City in the UK. Let’s be proactive in tackling the roots of systemic racism and not just the symptoms.
  2. Adopt a 10 Year Race Equality Delivery Plan for key sectors through annual targets over the next decade.
  3. Conduct a Survey of Racial Attitudes every two years, to respond to any shifts in the City’s racial attitudes and the City’s community cohesion.
  4. Promote the 3-year rolling Boards Diversity Challenge to ensure Birmingham’s Boards and management teams are reflective of the City’s superdiversity.
  5. Establish cross city Race Inequality Metrics to measure race impact and benchmark race inequality indicators to assess progress.
  6. The City’s public agencies should formally adopt a duty requiring them to reduce socio-economic disadvantage through their decision making by adopting Section 1 of the Equalities Act 2010.
  7. Encourage key Birmingham Institutions to publish Annual Ethnicity Pay Gap data.
  8. Persuade more Birmingham Institutions to adopt the Race Equality Code, thus joining the growing number of early adopters in the city who can be audited on their progress.
  9. Acknowledge the historic role by city institutions in the slave-trade, commemorating it like London, Liverpool and Bristol have done.
  10. Support all Birmingham schools with teaching Black, Asian and Marginalised Community Histories. This is already the case in Wales, so why not Birmingham.
  11. Develop and adopt a Schools Race Equality Standard for all city schools to achieve. (This should be added formally to the City Council’s 7-year schools improvement contract with the Birmingham Education Partnership).
  12. Establish a cross sector Race Equality Community Fund to support projects tackling systemic racism and community projects enhancing race equality and community cohesion.
  13. Develop and implement a Birmingham Leadership White Paper to deliver the leadership required for a super diverse city.
  14. Agree a detailed Legacy Delivery Plan and framework for the 2022 Commonwealth Games (beyond simply stating strategic intent) to be shared with the city’s citizens by the Games Organising Committee, its partners and the City Council prior to the Games.
  15. Establish a National Centre for World Cultures which creates a shared space to celebrate Birmingham as a superdiversity city.

‘Birmingham – A Race Equality Manifesto’ contact: info@wearebrig.co.uk

Launched on 21st March 2022: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN Anti-Racism Day)

 

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9 Action Points to move towards a zero-carbon West Midlands

Following a lobby and petitioning of the West Midlands Combined Authority, the West Midlands Climate Coalition has developed these nine action points to move towards a zero-carbon region.
RETROFIT BUILDINGS
Domestic insulation and heating programs need to be massively accelerated. This is a rapid way to reduce carbon emissions and save households money on their heating and energy bills. The WMCA should immediately publish and implement a comprehensive plan for the retrofitting of housing in the WMCA constituencies with the highest levels of fuel poverty revealed in a new league table from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, based on Government figures.
FARE FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Transport for West Midlands should follow the lead being given by Swansea, Newport, and Herefordshire by setting up free public transport schemes. A feasibility study into the economic, social, and environmental benefits of FFPT for the West Midlands should start work now. The WMCA should bring the region’s buses back into public control, following the example of Greater Manchester, as a step towards FFPT.
END SUPPORT FOR HS2
Apart from the environmental devastation it is causing, HS2 is vastly expensive. The money should be used instead for big investments in local and regional public transport. The current business model of the HS2 project is to increase economic growth and consumerism, however this will contribute to planetary destruction, and is not something we need more of.
DIVEST THE WEST MIDLANDS PENSION FUND FROM FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT
Pension funds investing in fossil fuels are contributing directly to uncontrolled global warming and in support of a sustainable future for all should invest instead in green renewables.
END THE INCINERATION OF WASTE
The continuation of waste incineration is an environmental crime. Plans should be made immediately to increase recycling (including food waste) and to transition to ecologically sustainable degradation.
CURB AVIATION
The WMCA should encourage its residents to limit the excessive use of environmentally damaging national and international flights (pending the development of zero carbon planes) to one return flight every two or three years.
TEACH THE CHILDREN
Local authorities within the WMCA area should actively promote proper climate and environmental studies in all schools for all children and young people, appropriate to their age.
PAUSE TRAM DEVELOPMENT
Trams are more accessible than buses and trains for disabled people and prams, but they are also hugely expensive to build and emit a large amount of Carbon Dioxide from cement and steel in their construction. New growth of this network should be paused, and the money diverted into upgrading the current regional public transport system, including the opening of new routes
BUILDING A WORKFORCE FOR THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY
The WMCA should use its resources to collaborate with the region’s trade unions, FE colleges, universities, and employers to create and implement a long-term strategy for the creation of green jobs and a just transition for workers in high carbon workplaces as they decline.
This is the latest version, adopted at the recent WMCC meeting. Comments welcome.

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Hodge Hill has the worst fuel poverty in England – Birmingham has 6 constituencies in the top 13. This is why mass retrofitting of homes is needed urgently.

The constituencies with the highest levels of fuel poverty* have been revealed in a new league table from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, based on Government figures.(https://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/constituencies-with-highest-levels-of-fuel-poverty-revealed/ )

Following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, which did little to help end the misery of fuel poverty which will affect over 6 million homes from 1 April 2022, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the public to take action.

The Coalition has launched a campaign to help people in fuel poverty easily contact their MP on Twitter. Simply tweet your MP today using this easy link: https://tymp.uk/3DckC0m. A petition by National Energy Action has also been launched.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s latest estimate is that 6.2m households (26.2%) in England will be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022 as a result of recent price increases.

Birmingham constituencies in national league table of constituencies by fuel poverty Continue reading

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Trade unions rally to support Ukraine!  Saturday 9 April, London

On Saturday 9 April 2022, British trade unions will stage a protest march and rally in Whitehall, in solidarity with Ukraine. They will call for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian territory and for an immediate ceasefire.

The demonstration will also demand that the government admits all refugees seeking to come here without further delay. It will begin at 12 noon at Parliament Square and proceed to Downing Street for a rally. Among the speakers will be Labour’s shadow environment minister Alex Sobel MP and Nadia Whittome MP.

The demonstration is supported by trade unions representing millions of British workers, and endorsed by five Ukrainian trade union federations, including those organising mineworkers from the occupied Donbas region.

Unions supporting the protest include Labour Party affiliates GMB, ASLEF, CWU, NUM and TSSA, plus the PCS, BFAWU and UCU.

Chris Kitchen, the National Union of Mineworkers’ general secretary, who travelled to Kyiv as part of a labour movement solidarity delegation on the eve of the invasion, said:

“The atrocities taking place in the Ukraine should be of concern to everyone, this is not just a fight over land, it’s a fight for sovereignty and democracy and one that we must do all we can to ensure Ukraine wins.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport and Salaried Staffs Association, which organises railway workers, said:

“We salute the bravery of railways workers who have transported civilians safely out of the country and ensured supplies have got back into Ukraine. We commend the bravery of many railway workers who have sabotaged Russia’s war efforts by severing rail links from Belarus and other countries, many of whom have also lost their lives”.

Mykhailo Volynets, chairperson of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), speaking from Kyiv, said:

“Ukraine needs assistance, primarily military, financial, and humanitarian aid. We ask you to call on your governments to provide this assistance to Ukraine and to impose tougher sanctions on the Russian Federation”.

The demo has been organised by Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which is dedicated to building links between the British labour and trade union movement and their Ukrainian counterparts, and to supporting the Ukrainian community in Britain. USC has been present on all the major demonstrations in support of Ukraine, and organised a delegation of United Kingdom lawmakers, trade union leaders and civil society activists to visit Kyiv in the four days leading up to the outbreak of war.

For further information please contact:  Christopher Ford 07508 962 123

Notes:

Ukrainian unions officially supporting the rally include KVPU (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine); FPSU (Federation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine); NPGU (Independent Miners Union of Ukraine); VPSU (Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine) and the Independent Union of Ukrainian Railways. Many of the unions have members actively involved in resistance to occupation, and fighting in the territorial defence brigades.

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Labour movement demonstration against the war in Ukraine, Saturday 9 April, London

The PCS union has called for a labour movement demonstration on Saturday 9 April to defend the people of Ukraine. It is supported by the GMB, CWU, ASLEF, and BFWU unions.

It is based on the following demands:

  • Russian troops out of Ukraine
  • No to Putin’s war
  • Support Ukraine’s trade unions
  • Ukrainian refugees welcome

Model resolution:

We support the demands of the demonstration which are:

  • Russian troops out of Ukraine
  • No to Putin’s war
  • Support Ukraine’s unions
  • Ukraine refugees welcome

This meeting agrees to:

Mobilise our members to attend the demonstration with our banner;

Make a donation to International Trade Union Confederation appeal to support its Ukrainian member organisations FPU and KVPU;

Affiliate to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign which is collaborating with Ukrainian unions and progressive organisations such as Sotsialny Rukh (Social Movement)

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What sort of antiwar movement do we need today?

Tactics to build a movement, not a shopping list of correct demands

The discussion about how to build a mass anti-war movement on Ukraine should not depend on this level of argument involving principles and political analyses about history and the current invasion. No, building a movement here is about tactics. How do we mobilise the biggest number of people so that we have an audience where we can put forward our respective arguments about the nature of Putin’s Russia or the role of NATO? All those fine analyses will have no impact outside a narrow group of lefties if we are unable to build a mass audience. More importantly the left will fail in its duty to defend the interests of working people in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere. We will end of doing little to stop the bombing and needless killing of both the Ukrainian people and young Russian conscripts.

Unfortunately today the movement around Ukraine is much weaker than in many other countries and is divided between the historic leadership of the anti-war movement, the Stop the War coalition (STW) and the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (USC). STW is still supported and respected by many activists even if its campaigning on Syria was criticised by some of the left for avoiding clearly calling out Russia’s reactionary role there. The USC has been supported by other parts of the left and has succeeded in mobilising the Ukrainian community quite effectively. Its leadership includes socialist activists from Ukraine. …

At the same time there are tens of thousands of British people who have mobilised in support of the Ukrainian people by organising humanitarian and medical aid. Firefighters have brought fire engines and equipment to Ukraine. Dock unions have blocked Russian tankers. There is huge sympathy for the Ukrainian people and revulsion about the actions of Putin’s regime. Some people – including soldiers – like others across Europe have gone across to Ukraine to work in medical support or to fight. We do not think volunteering to fight is the right thing to do but again it expresses the popular anger at what is happening.

So why don’t the STW and USC and other forces get together to organise mass demonstrations and actions on a few simple demands we can all agree on such as:

  • Russian troops out now
  • Stop the war
  • All refugees welcome

Stop the War’s wrong tactics on building the campaign

The historical leadership of anti-war campaigning, STW insists that these sort of broad slogans are not sufficient. They argue that slogans on NATO and war mongering have to be included in any slogans for a demonstration. They say it does not hold our government or the Labour leadership to account for its ‘warmongering’ and support of NATO. It does not want to organise a demonstration where somebody like Keir Starmer could feel he could participate.  What is the result? Up to now there have been separate mobilisations by STW which has brought together its traditional base on the left and the USC which has organised a part of the left and the Ukrainian community. Overall the size of the demonstrations is much smaller than in other countries.

The paradox for STW is that their previous great success, the anti-Iraq war movement was not conceived in this narrow manner. Platforms included pro-NATO Liberals, pacifists and religious leaders. The slogans on the poster aimed to include the broadest number of people and not exclude them by demanding agreement about the nature of the war or the regimes involved. …

Our priority is how to mobilise the majority of people in Britain who recognize the reactionary nature of Putin so that we can build the biggest possible movement in solidarity with Ukraine. Secondly we need to organise the biggest possible audience for voices from Ukraine. Once we have achieved that we can then talk to them about the reactionary nature of NATO. The insistence of STW on giving almost equal billing to stuff about NATO and withdrawal of Russian troops is a block to building a mass movement against Putin. It restricts the movement to the tiny minority who already agree that NATO is responsible for millions of deaths.

It also excludes Ukrainian voices. …

Anti*Capitalist Resistance has a clear position on NATO published on our website so we obviously think it is important to expose the utterly reactionary nature of the ‘Nakedly Aggressive Terror Organisation’. We should call for the dissolution of NATO in our own leaflets and articles and defend the right of other currents to put forward their own views. But that is different to building a mass campaign in solidarity with Ukraine.

A mass campaign has to bring together the majority already convinced of the reactionary nature of Putin, the Ukrainian community in Britain, other communities in Britain from eastern Europe and the relatively small number of people who understand the real nature and role of NATO but are also willing to listen to voices from Ukraine and try to understand their fears and concerns. …

The primary slogan of the campaign should be ‘Russian troops out now!’, a slogan around which the broadest possible forces opposed to Putin’s war can unite. Then you can start to talk to them about NATO, western hypocrisy over Yemen and Palestine etc. But if opposition to NATO is one of the major strands of the campaign then all those people having, at best, illusions in NATO simply won’t participate in the solidarity movement. Your ability to engage with them in discussions about NATO is reduced to zero. You also have little chance of getting them to hear the views of left-wing forces from Ukraine and Eastern Europe….

This Saturday 26 March the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called a demonstration for 2pm to 5pm from Park Lane to Trafalgar square. It is an extremely broad based call, simply saying we in London are in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we stand with Ukraine….. This could mobilise a good number of people, even if Sadiq Khan defends NATO along with the Labour leadership. STW should participate and make a call to support it. The Anti*Capitalist Resistance will be present as part of the labour movement and left bloc.

Sign up to the appeal for a more united Ukrainian campaign

Fortunately a number of people on the left who are frustrated at the division of the movement on Ukraine have organised an appeal to bring about such a wider mobilisation. Anti*Capitalist Resistance supports this appeal and urges everyone to sign here.

No war on Ukraine

“Massive demonstrations against war and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people all over Europe have not so far been matched in the UK, where protests have been small and often divided. We appeal to the entire Labour and trade union movement, pacifists, faith leaders, humanitarians, antiwar activists, those in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and all right-minded internationalists to build the broadest possible movement around three central demands:

  • Russian troops out of Ukraine!
  • No to war!
  • Refugees welcome here!

This article is extracts from the Anti-Capitalist Resistance website at https://anticapitalistresistance.org/what-sort-of-antiwar-movement-do-we-need-today/

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BIRMINGHAM – A RACE EQUALITY MANIFESTO

A person’s “race” or skin colour can never define who anybody is but, sadly, in the world we live in, these are factors which do affect the socio-economic status and the life-chances of us citizens of Birmingham. This is a super diverse city, especially in terms of race, nationality, religion, belief and culture (The 2021 Census is likely to confirm more than half city’s population is of Black, Asian or Minority ethnic origin, as 65% of our school children are already).

As we approach the May local elections, what should the city’s citizens expect from councillors old and new? BRIG, the Birmingham Race Impact Group, suggests that all political parties and election candidates adopt the proposals set out below. Continue reading

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West Midlands Climate Coalition UPDATE

On Wednesday 9th the Zero Carbon petition (with over 800 signatures from across the region) was presented by climate campaigners to the WMCA Environment and Energy Board at its meeting in Summer Lane, Birmingham. It was chaired by Ian Courts, the leader of Solihull Council.

The petition called for the following eight actions as steps to move the WM towards a Zero Carbon region:

  1. Divest the West Midlands Pension fund from fossil fuel investment.
  2. Follow the lead being given by Swansea, Newport and Herefordshire regarding free public transport – urge T4WM to set up a feasibility study for its introduction in the West Midlands.
  3. End the incineration of waste.
  4. The WMCA should urge its residents to limit themselves to one return flight every two or three years, pending the development of zero carbon planes.
  5. Local authorities within the WMCA area should promote proper climate and environmental studies in all schools.
  6. Stop good money chasing bad with HS2. Apart from the environmental devastation it is causing, it is vastly over-priced, will not link to the European High-speed network and has three dead-end stations, London, Birmingham, and Manchester. The Solihull Interchange Station will churn up more green belt land, and as for its aim to encourage more economic growth, our planet is not coping with the current level of economic activity, we certainly do not need more of it.
  7. Trams are more accessible than buses and trains for disabled people and prams, but they are also very expensive to build and emit a huge amount of CO2 from cement and steel in construction – so the compromise is to stop new growth of this network and use the money to upgrade the current bus and train network instead.
  8. As part of accelerating the domestic heating and insulation retrofitting programme, can we have the plan for retrofitting published?

The petition also called for an open regional forum to allow citizens to discuss the WMCA’s “Net Zero by 2041” plan. This has been agreed and the first meeting of the West Midlands Greener Together Quarterly Forum will take place on Thursday March 31st from 6-8pm. The first meeting will agree the Terms of Reference. This is an Open Meeting and it is important that there is a good attendance, so please spread the word. You can register for the “West Midlands Greener together” event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/…/west-midlands-greener

  • The next Youth Strike for Climate will be on Friday March 25th. In Birmingham it will meet outside Waterstones at 1.30pm.
  • The next Extinction Rebellion will begin in London on April 9th.
  • The next West Midlands Climate Coalition will be on Tuesday April 12th.

Climate Action Network West Midlands

 

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