Monthly Archives: May 2011

Next PCS Strike at EHRC on 6th June

PCS workers at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are taking industrial action over planned cuts to their advice service. They have already held two 1 hour strikes, which were well attended and supported by Birmingham Against the Cuts amongst other local groups.

Their next strike will be on Monday 6th June, 11:30 – 12:30, Lancaster House, 67 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 1NA.

By taking regular but short strikes they will draw attention to how the cuts will affect the service and show a willingness to take further action, whilst minimising the disruption to people who desperately need to use the advice service provided.

Laura, who works at the office said:

I wanted to thank you all for your support over the industrial action that the EHRC has taken recently and to say that your support has enabled a wider audience to see what devastation the cuts are  to have in general for all disadvantaged individuals.
We will be seeking to send a delegation from Birmingham Against the Cuts to support this action, and hope that you will be able to join us, and the workers taking action to defend their public service.
Reports from previous strikes: 4th May & 11th May
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Birmingham Will Not Be Silenced! Procession for Justice

Friday 3rd June, Assemble: 12noon, Law Courts, Corporation Street

Dress code: Mourning black & gaffer tape

At lunchtime on Friday, June 3rd, workers and service users from a variety of Advice and Legal Support agencies across the city will join Jack Dromey MP to lead a silent procession from Birmingham Law Courts to the Council House, symbolizing the stifled voices of the thousands of people who will be denied representation as a consequence of the Government’s proposed cuts to legal aid services.

Cuts to free legal advice target the most vulnerable – over 700,000 people will lose out on vital legal help through cuts to legal aid alone. People on low incomes and those who are disabled or vulnerable rely on community advice agencies for the help they need, yet the funding for this service is under serious threat. We further believe that this is really a false economy. Without advice, people’s problems spiral out of control, escalating costs for the public purse including housing, education and health budgets. Evidence suggests that early advice can save up to £10 for every £1 invested.

The Silent Procession for Justice is part of the national Justice for All Day of Action. The Justice for All campaign is calling for the protection of the frontline advice services which keep families together in their homes and in work and education to be maintained.

If you can’t make it on the day, please sign this petition – Birmingham supports Justice for All – to show local opposition to the plans to cut legal aid and deny people access to justice based on their income.

Facebook Page for Justice for All

Facebook Event

 

 

 

 

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Report from Public Meeting on May 26th

Around 100 people attended the public meeting, chaired by Sandra Carter from GMB, held by Birmingham Against the Cuts yesterday (26th may).

Jack Dromey – Labour MP for Erdington – was the first speaker, and he spoke about a broad range of cuts happening around the region due to the £212million council budget cuts this year.  He talked about cuts to social care, telling us about meeting some people who were going to have their care withdrawn and how “the stories were truly heartbreaking”.  He also mentioned the victory in the court which should prevent some of the care being withdrawn for now at least.

Amongst other cuts he mentioned the closure of Advantage West Midlands, saying

It is an act of economic madness to abolish an organisation that for every £1 invested produced £8.14 in wealth

His sternest vitriol was reserved for the bankers, who continue to profit at the expense of ordinary people, and the coalition administrations both nationally and in Birmingham.

He finished calling for people to fight back, particularly against the idea that there is no alternative (that he has dubbed TINA) and the kick them out – of Birmingham in 2012 and national government in 2015.

The next speaker was Doug Morgan from NUT, filling in for Alex Kenny.  Doug spoke passionately about the ballot for strike action and the need for a yes vote, citing strikes in Tower Hamlets and Camden which have won small victories recently.

He spoke of the need to continue action against the government and said that

March 26th was not the end of the movement.  It was the beginning of the end of this government

He said that the 3oth June being a huge strike, and that it was important to call for a larger movement on the day, and that he is expecting to see 10,000 people on the streets of Birmingham.

The NUT will be balloting on pensions, and Doug debunked some myths about “gold=plated” public sector pensions.. I think he said that the average was around £4,000 / year (Doug, I hope you read this and can let me know if I’ve remembered wrong because for some reason I didn’t write this down!).. and told us that these pensions – which he described as ok, were the only thing holding private sector pensions (“rubbish”)  up at all – if public sector workers pensions are reduced there will be less pressure on the private sector to keep theirs where they are, let alone make them better.

He also said that attacks on public servants were attacks on public services and so everyone should support the strikes, and called for unity between the private and public sectors.

David Hughes from Unison was next up, talking about the upcoming ballot for strike action over contract changes at Birmingham City Council.

This council is intending to slash and burn council services in this city

The ballot will be over contract changes that will cut away allowances for evening, night and weekend shift work, meaning that some workers will lose 1/3rd of their pay.  Library assistants for instance, will lose £2,700/year.

There are also changes which will allow the council to place someone at any job within their paygrade, no matter what the location or times of work.

He said the cuts would be devastating and quoted a union member who told Unison

Me losing this money will mean me losing my home

Unison are balloting for strike on the 30th June

There was then a slight break in speakers as Pete Duffy, treasurer for Birmingham Against the Cuts made an appeal for donations to help us pay for the meeting, and for the production of leaflets in the run up to June 30th.  You can find out how to donate on our website here

Vici Whittall was next up.  She works for PCS at the admin office for the West Midlands regional prison service and she spoke about the privatisation of the prison.  Birmingham and Featherstone prisons are going to be outsourced to G4S — a private firm.

Pensions under threat, no pay rise for two years and now we’re being privatised

She also said that more prisons are to be market-tested – a process where the prison bids against private sector companies to provide the service.

They will also be balloting for strike action on 30th June – over pensions as part of PCS, rather than over the privatisation of the prison service I think.

On 30th June we will be demonstrating alongside striking workers – see our facebook event

The final speaker was Dr John Lister from Health Emergency, who spoke passionately about the fight to save the NHS, mentioning the 700 bed job losses that we demonstrated about on Monday as well as other cuts around the country.

we were told … they were going to ringfence and protect the NHS.  Nothing could be further from the truth

£20bn “efficiency savings” means cuts of 4% every year for 4 years – something that Dr Lister said had never been done anywhere in the world.  He also told us that the chair of Monitor (a new organisation setup to promote competition within the NHS) has said he thinks it will need to be £30bn.

He also told us of cuts to community mental health care in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, where 50% of staff – 100 posts – are going to go.  Of those 100 posts, 8 are admin or managerial – 92 are frontline job cuts. He described this as a

Brutal, vicious cut that will wreck the lives of vulnerable people

He spoke of how cuts to backroom staff took away the people the frontline staff need support from to be able to do their jobs.

Amongst other cuts he mentioned that Primary Care Trusts want to cut hospital usage by 15% (with A+E usage wanting to drop by 40%!).

Alongside the cuts is Lansleys health bill. and Dr Lister sums up his feelings to that by saying

I don’t want to see Lansley’s bill substantially changed, I want to see it substantially in the bin, along with Lansley

A new campaign has been launched by people put in touch by 38 degrees for our area – Save our NHS West Midlands.  I think many people will be taking action on the NHS – we had a demo on monday, and tomorrow, UK Uncut have a national day of action, with an event in happening in Birmingham at 11am.
I’m sure there will be lots of activity from plenty of groups over the forthcoming months as we seek to kill the bill and stop the cuts that will wreck our NHS.

There was then an unfortunately short time for people to speak from the floor (I’m not sure exactly why but it seems there was some miscommunication between us and the council house as to what time the meeting was to end).  Charlie Friel spoke of the connexions strikes, saying they had reduced redundancies from 70 to 35 and stopped compulsory redundancies.

Bob Williams-Findlay from Disabled People Against the Cuts spoke about the attacks of the condem government:

They are creating a new victorina era, where if you can pay you live, if you can’t you die

Richard Hatcher spoke of the attack on the education system from academies, saying that this was a strategy to privatise the education system.

Finally, Simon Furze spoke of the demonstration on 18th September at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham, that it will be a regional demonstration built with the support of anti-cuts groups from around the West Midlands.

If you wanted to say something but were unable to, please make a comment on this post and I’ll link it up on facebook 🙂

Sorry for the lack of pictures..

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Final speaker list for tomorrows meeting

FIGHTING  THE  CUTS

Speakers:

JOHN LISTER  on fighting Lansley’s Health Bill and the dismemberment of the NHS

ALEX KENNY on fighting the proposals to make workers work longer and pay more for a lower pension

VICI WHITALL & BRIAN CLARKE on fighting the plans to privatise Birmingham prison

CAROLINE JOHNSON on fighting the imposition of the new ‘Martini’ contract which would dramatically worsen pay and conditions

JACK DROMEY MP on the Labour Party’s Alternative

Chair: Sandra Carter GMB Union

plus discussion from the floor

7.30 pm

Tomorrow, The Council Chamber, Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square

Facebook Event

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Save the NHS Demonstration at QE Hospital

Around 30 people were able to make it to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to demonstrate about the cuts the NHS is facing.

This demonstration was called on Saturday following the front page news story from Birmingham Mail that 700 beds are going to be lost from hospitals around Birmingham and Solihull as trusts seek to find “efficiency savings” (remember, the NHS budget is ringfenced!).

The QE Hospital is facing 17% budget cuts, which will lead to the reduction of admissions and outpatient appointments by 3,000 and 37,000 respectively.

Elsewhere, the Heart of England trust is cutting 20% of jobs (1,600 posts), and Sandwell and Dudley trust is facing £12m cuts.

Birmingham Mail have posted a video report of the demo

The NHS faces challenges from both budgetary cuts and the Health bill whose reforms open the NHS up to private companies coming in to make profits from taxpayers and move it a huge step towards being fully privatised.  The Blood Service is already facing part-privatisation, and had originally been proposed to be fully privatised.

The tories will privatise the NHS if they can, but we can stop them.  There are two events coming up concerning the NHS that could go to, and we are hearing of a local campaign being setup by members of 38Degrees, which we hope to have more news on soon..

On Thursday, John Lister from Health Emergency will be talking about the campaign to Save The NHS at our public meeting in Birmingham

On Saturday, UK Uncut have called a national day of action titled “Emergency Operation: Transform the Banks, Save the NHS” to draw attention to the cuts and the Health Bill reforms that will end what we currently know the NHS to be. In Birmingham, the meeting point is 11am, by Waterstones, near the Bull Statue.

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NHS demonstration – Monday 23rd

Following the announcement of 700 hospital beds being cut in Birmingham and Solihull, Birmingham against the Cuts, supported by Right to Work, have called an emergency demonstration.

This will be held at the main entrance of Queen Elisabeth Hospital, at 5pm on Monday 23rd. Facebook Event

The news is the latest in a series of news about job and services cuts to the supposedly ringfenced NHS budget.

1,600 Job Losses at Heart of England Trust (which runs Heartlands hospital – this represents 20% of their staff

£22million cuts at the University Hospital Trust will lead to 3,000 fewer admissions, and nearly 40,000 fewer outpatient appointments

£12million cuts at Sandwell and Dudley trust will lead to job losses, though the details of this are not yet known.

Overall, False Economy found over 4,000 job losses planned in the NHS in the West Midlands..

This is what a “ringfenced” budget looks like to the conservative party.   Cuts of up to 20% in budgets, leading to staffing cuts, a reduced number of appointments (both admissions and outpatient appointments) and a decline in the standards of patient care.

Combined with the health bill, the ConDem attack on the NHS is extreme, and needs to be opposed.

Join us to defend one of the most important institutions in the UK.

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Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts Public Meeting

Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts will hold a public meeting on Wednesday 15th June 7.30pm at Stirchley Community Church, Pershore Road (opposite the old baths on Bournville Lane).

Why the cuts aren’t necessary

How we can defend services

Speakers:

James Anthony (staff nurse and chair of QE hospital UNISON branch)

Linda Burnip (Disabled People against the Cuts)

Charlie Friel (Connexions steward)


Derelict Stirchley Baths
Is this the future for our public services?

• The Cotteridge Day Centre for the elderly has been granted a temporary reprieve, but its future is not guaranteed.

• The neighbourhood office service is being run down. What future for the Cotteridge office?

• Big cuts at the Lindsworth School

• Job cuts to the Fire service

• Merrishaw and Rea Meadow day nurseries threatened.

• Huge cuts to the Connexions service for young people.

• Social care for the elderly slashed.

We could go on, but as the half million strong TUC demonstration on March 26th stated; there is an alternative to this slash and burn attack on our vital public services.
Many public sector workers will be striking on June 30th in defence of a decent pension. Come along to our meeting
and have your say on what we can do to protect our area.

There are plenty of other events coming up in Birmingham before this meeting, take a look at our upcoming events page and see which you can come to to help fight the cuts.

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