Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pensioners Demonstrate against the Cuts

Pensioners gathered yesterday in Birmingham City Centre to march from the Unite building on Broad street to a rally at Chamberlain Square, where Peter Last and Christopher Smith from West Midlands Pensioners Convention, and Joe Morgan, regional secretary of GMB spoke.
Around 50 pensioners were joined by a dozen supporters of all ages to protest against the coalition governments policies which are hurting pensioners very badly.

Peter Last talked on a range of issues for pensioners, from the NHS reform bill, which threatens to allow private companies to play a much larger role in the provision of health care, and removes the duty of the secretary of state to provide healthcare, to cuts in the winter fuel allowance, and changes in pensions from RPI to CPI, which are causing pensions to rise more slowly than prices.
Every winter, 35,000 elderly people die from cold related illnesses. This winter, with the combination of hikes in fuel prices, and cuts of £50 in the winter fuel allowance for elderly people, many pensioners will find themselves unable to afford to pay for heating. It is likely that this will lead to more deaths this winter than usual.
At the same time, the coalition government has changed the way pensions work so that they are increased at the CPI rate, rather than RPI. CPI is always lower than RPI – for instance, in September 2011, CPI was forecast to be 4.9%, whilst RPI forecast was 5.4%.
Peter said that the government used “words of mass deception” and warned of deaths over this winter.

Joe Morgan also spoke about the change from RPI to CPI to calculate inflation, and reminded people that two years ago Lorely Burt (Lib Dem MP for Solihull) and Philip Hammond (Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield) had made promises to pensioners to ensure that they were treated fairly.
He also spoke of the upcoming pension strike on November 30th, and how it is important for current pensioners to support the younger generations whose pensions are being attacked, as these are the pensioners of tomorrow.
There was a call for people to attend the Birmingham Against the Cuts public meeting about the strikes on Thursday 24th November.

Christopher Smith stood in for a speaker from Save The Bullring Markets, who was unable to come. Christopher spoke of the threat to the markets due to a withdrawal of funding promises from Birmingham City Council. He explained that the wholesale markets cover an area of 20 miles, supplying huge amounts of food to the city. He warned of rising food prices in small shops and an increase in dominance of large supermarket chains if the markets are to close.

The march itself was very lively, with lots of banners, placards and horns. There was plenty of support from the public and passing drivers, and some people joined the march as it progressed down Broad Street.
We hope to see more activity from the various pensioners conventions that came together for this march, initiated by the National Pensioners Convention London, and organised locally by West Midlands Pensioners convention, and would encourage our readers to support their activities strongly, as this winter will be especially tough for pensioners, as food and fuel prices are outstripping inflation by a significant amount.

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Public Meeting: Support the November 30th Strikers – They Strike for All of Us

Thursday November 24th, 7pmat the Council House, Victoria Square, B1 1BB
Speakers:
Christine Blower (General Secretary NUT)
Joe Morgan (Regional Secretary GMB)
Paul Mackney (Ex. General Secretary UCU)
Sian Ruddick (PCS Midlands Chair)
James Anthony (UNISON University Hospital Chair)
Edd Bauer (National Executive Committe, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts)
Sarah Barton (Bournville School anti-academy campaign)

Chaired by Bryan Nott (Kings Heath and Moseley Labour Party)

Please attend our Facebook Event, and invite your friends to let them know this event is happening

The coalition is destroying our welfare state. It is privatising the NHS and slashing services to youth, old people, the poor and the disabled. The rest of us suffer with loss of jobs or cuts in real pay of up to 10%.
Their latest attack is on public sector workers’ pensions.
These are among the lowest in Europe and fully funded by workers contributions. The real scandal is that private employers have been allowed to provide even lower pensions or no pension at all.

The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire. Contributions to the scheme will rise, by up to £1,250 / year for teachers, whilst the retirement age will be increased and pensions payments reduced, firstly by moving from RPI to CPI to calculate increases, and secondly by changing from a final salary scheme to a career average scheme.

Hamstead Hall School Picket on 30th June

At our public meeting on May 26th, Doug Morgan from NUT spoke about public sector pensions, debunking some of the myths surrounding “gold-plated” pensions. The average public sector pension is around £4,000 per year. He also argued that the only thing maintaining private sector pensions (which he described as awful) were the public sector pensions (described as OK).Like the teachers, other public sector workers 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.

30th June Strike rally

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.

These 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.

Public sector workers are striking for all of us on November 30th. The resistance is growing:
March 26 demonstration 500,000
June 30th strikes 1,000,000
November 30th strikes 3,000,000
Next year? 20,000,000 ?
The coalition can be beaten. There is an alternative.
Support the strike.
Leaflets are available, email BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com if you would like some to deliver.

You can download and print an A4 poster advertising the event here
We will be organising many leafleting events to build for this meeting, and for the strike on 30th November.
More details about the strike day itself will become available as unions announce their ballot results and plans get put into place.

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Students of Birmingham! Defend Education!


This is it! Invite your friends, family, housemates. Students of Birmingham defend education; Assemble 2pm, Wednesday 2nd November by the Clocktower at the university of Birmingham. Attend on the facebook event

If you want to be involved in planning the demo, come along to weekly planning meetings mondays at 6pm

Last year the Tory-Lib Dem government scrapped EMA and raised university tuition fees to £9000, betraying election pledges and effectively pricing many of us out of education. Those who want to go onto masters degrees or doctorates are facing uncapped and rapidly rising fees, at the same time as cuts to what little funding exists to support them. Now the government is attempting to push through a wave of privatisation that threatens to make universities about profit and management, not about students or social justice. Going to uni or getting a decent job will become even more the preserve of the rich.

Last year students, pupils and workers fought back with mass protests, strikes and waves of direct action. We were the biggest youth rebellion since the 1960s, and we aren’t going away. Together we can save education and the welfare state.

Join the fightback stop
-Privatisation
-Undergraduate Fees going up £9000!
-Postgraduate fees going up £10,500!
-Unaffordable halls , half the money paid in rent taken is in profit in university of Birmingham halls!
-Massive pay rises for high paid top university mangers, last round every manager got a 11% pay rise!
-Cuts to our lecturers, contact hours and our courses, we have already lost 200 jobs.
-The University of Birmingham continues to lobby for even higher fees!

This demonstration builds towards the national demonstration against privatisation on November 9th, coaches are available from Birmingham, click through to the post for details.

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Council budget consultation meetings

Birmingham city council are holding a series of consultation meetings about budget cuts:

Thursday 27th October, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Alexander Stadium, Walsall Road, Perry Barr, B42 2LR

Wednesday 2nd November, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Sutton Coldfield United Reformed Church, 1 Brassington Avenue Sutton Coldfield, B73 6AA

Thursday 3rd November, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Newtown community Centre, 57 Newtown Shopping Centre

Monday 7th November, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Bournville College -new campus, 1 Longbridge Lane, Northfield, B31 2AJ

Wednesday 9th November, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Kings Heath Community Centre, 8 Heathfield Road, Kings Heath

Thursday 10th November, 6:30pm-8:30pm, The Council House, Victoria Square, B1 1BB, Committee Rooms 3 & 4

Saturday 12th November, 10am-12noon, Shard End Community Centre, 170 Packington Avenue, B34 7RD

You can read the council’s statement on the consultation here, and download the consultation document on that page.

It is important that we attend these consulation meetings to put pressure on the council, and to express our view that there should not be cuts.
Some of the cuts that are being consulted on are:
a. 400 jobs to go in home care

b. 105 out of 175 Connexions jobs to go

c. Adoptions budget to be cut and 5 childrens homes closed

d. Remaining four care homes to be shut

e. Environmental and trading standards to lose 71 out of 155 jobs

f. Ladywood Arts and Community Centre to be shut.

Meanwhile the council continues to spend millions of pounds of private sector consultants, and executive pay and allowances are not being considered..
These cuts will affect many people badly, the closure of 5 childrens’ homes for instance, will see the care of those children outsourced since councils have a legal duty to look after children in care – something which ended up costing the council more money than it saved last time they tried it.
We must oppose all cuts to services, and demand a needs based budget.

Please attend the meetings and make sure that the council knows that there is strong opposition to their cutting agenda.

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Walsall and West Midlands Pensioners march


As a fight back the Walsall and West Midlands Pensioners are staging a march and protest on Thursday 27th October.

The march will start at the UNITE the UNION offices in Broad Street, Birmingham at 11am marching to Chamberlain Square in the city centre.

With fuel prices rising faster than inflation, and Winter fuel allowances being cut by up to £100 many elderly people face a cold, harsh winter.
This is on top of high inflation, and pensions rising by the lower measure of CPI rather than RPI meaning that pensions are worth less and less each year.

We hope that you are able to join the march, whether you are a pensioner or not.

If you are on Facebook, please attend the facebook event, invite your friends and share it on your wall.

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Jarrow March recreation meeting report

Last night at the Briar Rose, there was a public meeting in support of the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March recreation.
Currently young people are marching from Jarrow near Newcastle, to London in protest at the lack of work for young people. Youth unemployment rose to almost 1 million people over the last month.

The marchers are passing through Coventry, and one of them, Ollie, travelled to Birmingham to talk about the march.
He told us how much support he had had from people where the march was passing, and that the media was not reflecting the facts on the ground, that most people are supportive of this march.
Ollie spoke widely about the issues facing young people today, not just unemployment but the implementation of workfare and work programmes, housing issues and the scrapping of EMA and raising of tuition fees that are creating a two-tier education system.

The government is systematically destroying the future of this generation of young people

He also explicitly linked the struggle of young people to other people, mentioning the public sector pension strikes and the problems that disabled people are facing with cuts in benefits and ATOS assessment programmes, and how all these struggles are linked.

The demands for Youth Fight for Jobs .. are that the government should really be investing in the future for young people, rather than destroying their future .. firstly there should be a lot more jobs created that are socially useful .. we are facing huge environmental catastrophes and there should be lots of jobs created in environmental area .. I have mentioned there is a lack of housing for people and this is also an opportunity

He also talked about reinstatement of EMA, creation of social housing, apprenticeships and other things as part of the demands. He said that the march is a tactic, not an end in itself.

There will be a regional demonstration in Coventry on Saturday to support the marchers, people from Birmingham are meeting at New Street train station at 11am to travel there.

After Ollie, Sian Ruddick from PCS spoke. She talked about how her father remembered the original march, and how there was 50th anniversary march that she joined. Talking about unemployment in Birmingham she told us:

Birmingham has 5 out of the 10 most deprived areas in the Country. Ladywood consituency, in which is where I work which is Handsworth has the highest unemployment in the country and obviously a large proportion of those are Youth. We do have people who are committed to trying to find young people jobs.

Sian told us of young people with degrees who are in job centres looking for packing work, and the issues of a lack of good apprenticeships means that a traditional route into a good job is gone.
Like Ollie she talked about the wider issues facing young people, not just the lack of jobs but cuts to youth services, the scrapping of EMA and raising of tuition fees.

At each leg of the journey, the marchers have been joined by local people who are not able to complete the whole march but do a short part of it.
The marchers will reach London on November 5th where there is a national demonstration. A coach is going from Birmingham, at the cost of £3 unwaged or £6 waged. If you wish to join them to demonstrate against unemployment, please email us and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers – BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com

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From AABA: Victory at Bournville!

Academies can be defeated!

The combination of a forceful parents’ campaign and threat of united strike action by NASUWT and NUT members has resulted in the Bournville governors abandoning plans to convert to an Academy (at least for this school year). See below the letter from HOBS (Hands Off Bournville School).

The task now is to publicise their victory across the city so it can inspire staff and parents at other threatened schools to campaign in the same way.

Come and hear Sarah report on the Bournville campaign at the AAA Midlands regional conference on Novermber 12 in Birmingham – details here 

Discuss this and other Academy and free schol issues at the next AABA meeting on Monday 31October at 6pm at the NASUWT offices, Ludgate Ct, Water St. We hope you will be able to come. (If you arrive late and the door is locked phone 07815 962157 and someone will come down and open it.)

Richard Hatcher On behalf of AABA

 

Dear Supporter

Success!

At the HOBS meeting last night we learnt that Governors have decided to abandon their Academy proposal for the rest of this academic year. Acting on the recommendation by the Headteacher Barbara Easton, Governors voted by an overwhelming majority to postpone consideration of Academy conversion until 31st August 2012. Further to this they agreed that any future re-consideration of Academy status will require a further period of full consultation. They decided that Academy conversion is not right for Bournville School at this time.

This is excellent news and I would like to thank you for your part in supporting the campaign. This result has been made possible, against the odds, by the combined efforts of concerned parents, members of the community and staff of Bournville School.

The future

Our work is not over yet, we still need to ensure that the current application for Academy conversion is withdrawn and that the DfE’s Academy Order for Bournville School will no longer apply. I will continue to keep you updated of our progress on this. We will also be keeping a close eye on the local and national picture regarding Academy conversion, as we fully expect to be revisiting this issue next Autumn.

With thanks again for your support,

Sarah Barton

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