Monthly Archives: March 2012

Budget Day Protest Video: Austerity Isn’t Working

Last Wednesday, workers, students and claimants formed a mock dole queue outside the Council House in Birmingham in protest at this governments austerity policies that are failing this country. Watch the video of the protest:

The protest was called by PCS Midlands, and supported by Birmingham Against the Cuts, Unison and Right To Work.

You can see more photos from the event, taken by Geoff, at his Flickr Page here.

Spread the video, get the message out – Austerity Isn’t Working, Britain’s Better Off With The Alternatives.
You can find out more about the alternatives to the cuts and austerity at these places:
False Economy – Cuts are Not The Cure
Birmingham Against The Cuts – Alternatives
PCS – Alternative To The Cuts

And get involved with anti-cuts and anti-austerity actions.
If you’re in or around Birmingham, look at our Upcoming Events page or see if there is a local group near you.
If you are outside Birmingham, look for a local campaign group near you on the False Economy website, or with a national group like UK Uncut or Right to Work.

Together we can defeat this government.

The video was produced by Tom with photos and filming by Geoff Dexter-Sherbourne Publications. Music is “No Banker Left Behind” by Ry Cooder.

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All In This Together? The Impact of UK Austerity Measures on Gender Equality and Citizenship

The Gender and Feminist Theory Research Group at the University of Birmingham are holding a half day Symposium on the Impact of UK Austerity Measures on Gender Equality and Citizenship on the 27th April 2012, 1pm-5.30pm at The European Research Institute, University of Birmingham

UPDATE: This event is now fully booked. A post-conference report will be produced, which the group will make available online for people to see, and we will post it here or link to it once it is done.

The UK Coalition Government’s current austerity programme is presented as a necessary and ‘fair’ response to a crisis in which the British people are ‘all in it together.’ Is it? Or are there winners and losers? Will the consequence be a ‘roll back’ of many of the substantive gains in gender equality in the UK since 1945? This symposium brings together academics, policymakers, third sector organizations and advocates to interrogate the gendered impacts of austerity measures.

Themes include: the political economy of cuts; the impacts on gender equality; the role of the state in promoting equality and inclusion; citizenship; welfare, poverty and social exclusion.

Speakers include:
Baroness Ruth Lister (Compass; Fair Pay Network; Smith Institute)
Anna Bird (Fawcett Society)
Scarlett Harris (Womens Equality Officer, TUC)
Susan Himmelweit (Open University; Women’s Budget Group)
Professor Sylvia Walby (UNESCO Chair, Gender Research Group)

A flyer regarding the event can be viewed or downloaded here.

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NHS Protest Tomorrow at John Hemming’s Constituency Office

Tomorrow, Saturday 24th March, at 10:45am, there will be a protest outside the constituency office of Yardley MP John Hemming. The protest will oppose the coalition government’s plans to privatise the NHS contained in the Health and Social Care Bill, which was passed this week.

The government’s plans will open the door to a private healthcare system like the one used in the USA. 49% of hospital beds will be handed over to the private sector and campaigners anticipate the introduction of charges and the deterioration of services over time.

There has been massive opposition to the plans from health workers, patients and trade unions. 70,000 people watched the trade union rally opposing the Bill last week, and thousands more have signed petitions to save the NHS.

Local activist Ben Rubery said: ‘Working class people will not sit back and watch as our NHS is carved up and handed over to private companies by the government. We will struggle to save free, public healthcare for ourselves and future generations.’

The protest will take place outside the constituency office of John Hemming MP (1772 Coventry Road, B26 1PB) at 10:45am on Saturday 24th March. It is being organised by Socialist Alternative

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Stirchley Library Protest Report

The Coalition that runs Birmingham City Council (or rather, is running it into the ground), has decided to slash the library service opening hours. One of the libraries affected is in Stirchley. It is now proposed to close it on Fridays as well as on Wednesdays.
So, Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts turned up on Thursday evening to let the staff, library users and local people know that there are people around who do not think that nothing can be done to stop such “cultural vandalism” (to use Councillor Dawkin’s description of the decision to move the Bournville School of Art out of Bournville).
As usual, people were keen to sign the petition and passing motorists were keen to honk in support.

Then, lo and behold, who should turn up but Councillor Dawkins himself! He announced that the decision to close it for an extra day was his, and that he had done it to the library in order to save it! Now, there is not much you can say to chop-logic like that, but, put it this way, there was an exchange of views. He was then at pains to say that with coming investment it would re-open for five days several years into the future. Jam tomorrow, eh!
But he did not seem too keen to talk about other massive cuts imposed on the people of Birmingham by his ConDem coalition. That it seems, was nothing to do with him.

It is about time that there was an effective challenge to the Bournville Tory Councillors at the ballot box as well as on the streets. That is something that Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts has considered most attentively in recent months

Bob Whitehead

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Austerity Isn’t Working: Budget Day Protest

2.67 million people are now unemployed in the UK. Austerity is not working. On Wednesday 21st March, George Osborne will unveil his next budget, which we already know will continue to follow a policy of austerity, a policy which is failing the people of the UK and Birmingham.
On Wednesday 21st March, we will join PCS, Unison and Right to Work to protest these policies and call for the alternatives to cuts. Come to Victoria Square at 4pm, to form a dole queue stretching out from the council house.

Perhaps you are one of the 31,000 NHS ringfenced staff who have lost their jobs in the past year, or one of the other 270,000 public sector workers. Maybe you are one of the million 16-24year olds who cannot find work, or a private sector worker whose company has closed due to the recessions caused first by the bankers and then by austerity.
Female unemployment is at its highest since 1988, and women make up 80% of those who lost their job in the last quarter.

Locally, austerity has directly cost around 6,000 council jobs, and 28,000 public sector jobs in the West Midlands. Birmingham has amongst the highest unemployment rates in the UK, with Ladywood and Hodge Hill constituencies vying for first and second place, with rates at 11.5% and 10.1%.. Youth unemployment in Hodge Hill is at 28.4%.

Join us, dress in your old uniform if you can, or make a placard telling us what austerity has cost you, or how many people at your workplace, sector, area, gender, age or race have lost their jobs.
Wednesday 21st March, 4pm, Victoria Square, B1 1BB

Accessibility information:
Event is outside and will last for 1-2 hours. Step free routes to Victoria Square are available from Snow Hill (approx. 1/2 mile), New Street and Moor Street (approx 3/4 mile), and from the main bus stops.
There is a single use and accessible public toilet in Victoria Square, with additional accessible toilets available in Paradise Forum, Pallisades and Pavilions shopping centres, within 1/2 mile of Victoria Square.

You can view and download PCS leaflet about the event by clicking here

Download and print Birmingham Against The Cuts Leaflet to be handed out on the day by clicking here

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Navitas Not Welcome In Bournville!

At lunchtime today there was a stall and petitioning session outside the Bournville School of Art, which is leased by the Birmingham City University from the Bournville Village Trust.

This was to protest against the privatisation of the education service there, and the extra course costs that are being imposed on top of tuition fees for students. The stall was supported by Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts.
The plan, that is being carried out without consultation, is to transfer the BA (Hons) Art and Design course to a new location in Margaret Street and the Edexcel foundation course to a new building in Eastside in 2013, and the two buildings on the Bournville Green would be used as a training base for foreign students, as a precursor to taking degree courses at Birmingham University. This lease is being handed over to Navitas, an Australian-based, for-profit education company, and they expect to move into two of the rooms by May and begin operations. The university will hope to benefit from all of this by having a greater uptake from foreign students, which would increase its revenue.

There is no objection to foreign students coming here, that is not the issue. It is an issue of privatisation and cost-cutting. The university could do the pre-course training in-house. And if they really wanted a special location, there is a very suitable building that has become available recently. The Gemeindehaus student residence nearby is desperate to find a buyer, and if it could go to someone wanting to invest in student accommodation it could be the ideal solution. Also, Bournville Village Trust must be fully aware of the situation and it is surprising that they have not forwarded this information in order for the Change of Use to be effected on Ruskin Hall. Has the Bournville Village Trust agreed to it all in principle already?

Already, there has been a running down of provision at the Bournville School of Art. The canteen has been closed for two years and now extra fees are being demanded of students, for example for materials and for the final year show. If Navitas get their hands on it, we can expect more cost-cutting, attacks on wages and conditions and a two-tier workforce, as they start employing their own staff.

Whether the move to Margaret Street is a good idea as far as art teaching is concerned is another matter. However, the Bournville buildings are part of the Cadbury legacy, and when you consider that the adjacent Bournville J.I. School is considering academy status, we see a pattern of privatisation in the area and a full frontal attack on the ethos of Cadburyism.

The three local Tory councillors have intervened into this issue, highlighting the loss of an important local resource, and combining their statements with racist dog-whistles about the influx of foreign students. They have drawn up their own petition and presented it. Could these three Councillors be the same ones who voted for £212 million cuts to the Birmingham City Council budget last year and £100 million cuts for next, and are part of the ruling coalition which is trying to privatise all of its leisure services, close children’s homes and decimate the Connexions service for young people?

All the students that passed the stall agreed to sign, as did all the local passers-by. The campaign is beginning.

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Kings Heath Against Workfare

A local group of residents, workers and claimants has formed around Kings Heath to oppose workfare on our high streets.

You can keep up to date with them directly on facebook by liking their page: www.facebook.com/kingsheathagainstworkfare.

The first event is on Saturday (17th March) – a walk of shame around Kings Heath high street exposing the workfare profiteers.

Gather outside Poundland, on the corner of High Street and Institute Road from 1pm, to set off around 1:30pm for a walk along the high street, stopping off to expose the businesses and charities that use forced labour in their stores.

The next planning meeting is scheduled for Thursday 21st March, from 7pm-8pm at All Saints Centre, Kings Heath high street.. we are waiting for final confirmation on the date but it should be correct – just please check back on our upcoming events page, or the Kings Heath Against Workfare facebook page next week to check.
Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting.

A leaflet for Kings Heath is available to download and print

You can read more about why Birmingham supports the workfare campaigns by clicking here.

There is a meeting on Thursday 29th March to discuss actions around Birmingham and the West Midlands.
7pm-9pm, Unite the Union, Transport House, 221 Broad Street, .

For accessibility information on all our workfare events, please click here.

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