Monthly Archives: April 2012

Stockland Green Against The Cuts & Youth Fight For Jobs Demo – Erdington, Sat 19th May

Local group Stockland Green Against the Cuts, supported by Youth Fight For Jobs are organising a Youth Jobs March on Saturday 19th May, assembling 11am outside the Co-op on Erdington High Street.

No education, no jobs, no homes, no services. This is the bleak future that young people face. We are expected to pay for a crisis caused by the rotten system we live under.

There are currently 1 million 18-14 year olds out of work. This joblessness is a result of the ConDem austerity yet the government tries to punish the unemployed by forcing them to work for their dole. This gives their big business mates the opportunity to get some work done on the cheap.

The cap on tuition fees has been raised to £9,000 a year, pricing many working class people out of universities. And in one of the stingiest attacks, EMA has been scrapped. Education is becoming the preserve of the rich.

Extortionate housing costs and cuts to housing benefit mean that areas such as London will see social cleansing as only the super rich will be able to afford to live there. In Birmingham, 34,500 housing benefit claimants – many of whom are in work – will be chasing 23,000 low cost houses, and it is unknown how many of those are available to people on benefits, as the “No DSS” clause seems to be getting more and more common.

Youth services are being cut to the bone. The riots last year were fuelled by cuts to youth services. If the government carries on its present course then we could see the inner cities set ablaze again.

They say there is no money, but they found the money to bail out their cronies the bankers, and the rich owe £120 billion in unpaid taxes!

Fight for a future

Now is the time for young people to fight back! We need to stop the ConDemolition wrecking ball that is smashing our hopes and futures.

Join us in Erdington on Saturday 19th May

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Videos from PCS Local Election Candidate Question Time

PCS held a question time session earlier this week with representatives from parties standing around Birmingham. PCS also asked candidates to sign pledges, and unsurprisingly, many of the questions are focused on cuts.

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Birmingham TUC Mayday Event

Birmingham Trades Union Council invites you to celebrate May Day 2012, with events on Saturday 5th May. Please join and invite friends to the facebook event

Stalls & live music on Birmingham city centre High Street (in front of Waterstones near the Bullring), 12pm – 2pm.

Evening social at the Bright House, Hill Street, B5 4AN, 4pm – 11pm.

Speakers on anti-fascism, traveller solidarity, UK Uncut direct action, DPAC, pensioner activism, the Battle of Saltley Gate, struggles in Greece, council cuts & more.

Special guests: GMB strikers from Swindon hospital (invited) & blacklisted rank ‘n’ file construction activist Dave Smith.

Films from Reel News, stalls & food throughout the evening.

Music from Redbeard (Birmingham rap), Broken Dialect (Wolves hiphop)
& The Dementors (skiffle).

FREE ENTRY

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Local Election Pledges Returned

In advance of the forthcoming Birmingham City Council Elections on the 3rd May Birmingham Against the Cuts wrote to all candidates for their position of 5 pledges:

  • To support the campaign to oppose the privatisation of our leisure services (as advertised in the European Journal), and to work to ensure that no other public services are privatised, outsourced, or mutualised.
  • To support the campaign to oppose any reduction in local library services (including opening hours)
  • To support the campaign to oppose any closures in our Children Homes, Nurseries and Sure Start centres
  • To support the campaign to oppose the reduction in Connexions and Youth Services by working to re-open offices for young people in the areas of highest unemployment and arguing to reinstate pre 2008 funding levels as youth unemployment reaches record levels.
  • To support the campaign against public service job cuts and to ensure quality public services are delivered to those in need. I will fight for the services women, disabled people, black people, LGBT people, young people and elderly people rely upon as they are disproportionately affected by the cuts.

The following candidates have signed up to all 5 pledges:

ACOCKS GREEN, Ben Rubery, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
ACOCKS GREEN, Chris Whitehouse, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
BORDESLEY GREEN, Uzma Ahmed, The Labour Party Candidate
BOURNVILLE, Lynne Habermacher, Communities Against The Cuts
HANDSWORTH WOOD, John Tyrell, Socialist Labour Party
HANDSWORTH WOOD, Malti Dhiman, Liberal Democrat
KINGS NORTON, Christopher Hughes, Communities Against The Cuts
KINGS NORTON, Ged Hickman, Green Party
LADYWOOD, Hazel Clawley, Green Party
LOZELLS AND EAST HANDSWORTH, Emma Round, Green Party
NORTHFIELD, Brett O’Reilly, Labour Party Candidate
SHELDON, Alan Crawley, Green Party
SOHO, Shangara Bhatoe, Socialist Labour Party
SPARKBROOK, Peter Tinsley, Green Party
SUTTON TRINITY, Ulla Grant, Green Party

No responses were received ANY Conservative Party candidates

It is disappointing that only two responses were received from the whole of the Labour Group who are currently in ‘opposition’ to the current Con-Dem coalition but are only have 6 seats from having an overall majority in the Council.
(since posting this, a third response has been received)

For more details of their responses, including further comments please check out the spreadsheet here. If you cannot open an XLSx file, you can read additional comments made by candidates by clicking here

Update: the 2 Labour candidates who signed our pledges won their seats, as did Lisa Trickett who repleid with a statement.

In addition a statement was received on behalf of the following Green Party Candidates

ACOCKS GREEN, Amanda Baker, Green Party
ASTON WARD, Ankaret Harmer, Green Party
BARTLEY GREEN, Adam Round, Green Party
BILLESLEY, Anna Masters, Green Party
BORDESLEY GREEN, Huw Davies, Green Party
BOURNVILLE,Joe Rooney, Green Party
BRANDWOOD,Jane Bradshaw, Green Party
EDGBASTON, Bill Van Marle, Green Party
ERDINGTON WARD, David Owen, Green Party
HALL GREEN, Charles Alldrick, Green Party
HANDSWORTH WOOD, Hugh Williams, Green Party
HARBORNE, Phil Simpson, Green Party
HODGE HILL, Anne Okole, Green Party
KINGSTANDING, Tony O’Sullivan, Green Party
LONGBRIDGE WARD, Susan Pierce, Green Party
MOSELEY AND KINGS HEATH WARD, William Lilley, Green Party
NECHELLS WARD, Janet Assheton, Green Party
NORTHFIELD, Kirsty Axe, Green Party
PERRY BARR, Coline Marriott, Green Party
QUINTON WARD, Peter Beck, Green Party
SELLY OAK, David Toke, Green Party
SHARD END, Tracie Hammond, Green Party
SOHO, Steven Austin, Green Party
SOUTH YARDLEY, Rianne Ten Veen, Green Party
SPRINGFIELD, Ian Jamison, Green Party
STECHFORD & YARDLEY NORTH, Eric Fairclough, Green Party
STOCKLAND GREEN, Elly Stanton, Green Party
SUTTON FOUR OAKS, David Ratcliff, Green Party
SUTTON NEW HALL, Samantha Winsper, Green Party
SUTTON VESEY, James Orford, Green Party
TYBURN, Lee Moore, Green Party
WASHWOOD HEATH, John Bently, Green Party
WEOLEY, Ross Axe, Green Party

Dear Godfrey and Caroline

Thank you for your letter about the cuts planned by this council in the delivery of our public services. As the ONLY party standing across the whole of Birmingham committed to delivering high quality public services publicly we are delighted to back all your pledges. With elected Green Party Councillors at County and City level in Norfolk the Green Party has been leading the way in saving Youth Services across the County in spite of the cuts of all central governments. In Brighton again we are fighting to resist the joint actions of Labour and Conservatives who want us to cut these vital services. These are the actions of Green Party councillors that you can expect if we are elected in Birmingham on 3rd May.

Whilst some of our candidates may wish to respond to you individually not all are able to do so. Please take this response from all of us in Birmingham Green Party.

We look forward to your members support on 3rd May.

Phil Simpson, Co ordinator Birmingham Green Party

Lisa Trickett, who is standing the Kings Heath and Moseley ward for the Labour Party has replied with a statement of general support. The attached spreadsheet will be updated asap.

Come along to the Birmingham Against the Cuts meeting tonight 6pm at the PCS union office, New Oxford House, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham B2 5UG. There will be an opportunity to discuss the responses we have received. PCS have also invited us to attend their Candidates Question Time event at the Council House 6:30 – 8:30. All parties have been invited – this will be an opportunity to challenge the political parties and candidates over these issues.

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NHS protest tomorrow

As part of a national day of action, Save Our NHS West Midlands and Keep Our NHS Public are going to be at the Virgin Store on New Street from 2pm.

This is to protest at the privatisation of our NHS services following the health and social care bill passing into law.

You can read more about Virgin’s involvement and the protest tomorrow on the Save Our NHS West Midlands website by clicking here

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They Took the Air out of the Life Jacket – A Report From a Workfare Attendee

We’ve been sent this report from Raman, a Birmingham resident who was sent on the work programme, one of the compulsory workfare schemes we’ve been campaigning against with Boycott Workfare.
If you are on, or have been on the work programme, or one of the other workfare schemes, please get in touch with us, anonymously if you want, and let us know what happened and whether it was useful to you. email BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com or comment on this post.
At our demonstrations we’ve had many people stop and talk to us telling us that workfare did not help them, and the more of these stories we can publicise, the more pressure there is on the government to scrap the scheme and stop the providers profiteering from the taxpayer.

This is what Raman has to say:

They Took the air out of the Life Jacket

I had the economic misfortune to be on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) for two years. During that period I applied for over 600 jobs, with no meaningful support from my advisers their only concern that I presented a little gray book on each visit to prove that I had looked for at least three jobs a week.
In my bitter experience only 1% of employers had bothered to write back. It might be argued that as a genuine job seeker I should have embraced any offer of help, however the options on offer was in the main for unskilled minimum wage jobs (the kind that I had been doing most of my life) not useful in order to gain long term vocational skills, it is often reported in the press that there is a shortage of qualified tradespeople and science workers.

The government has a captive audience ready to train and mould from scratch into being skilled workers of tomorrow and less of a feature burden for the tax payer. Yet instead of investing in retraining the governments policy appears to be to keep skills low so that low wages are a long term fact of life for a lot of people, which in turn could be argued is a good way of keeping the expectations of citizens of a low and intellectually bankrupt nature recent history has proved that it is easy for pr savvy but free of radical policy politicians to succeed amidst a society where apathy and illiteracy are high (Blair, Brown, Cameron).

The current training on offer via the Job Centre is basic customer service (how to serve some one in a shop) interview skills or basic IT. None of which would help the poorest in society embark on a more meritocratic journey out of poverty or decrease the chances of repetitive periods of welfare dependency.

Intraining a private company, brought in by the coalition, profit from such a society. The emphasis of their work culture is for the advisers to compete against one another in order to get their clients off the dole (into paid or unpaid roles), without long-term analysis or focus on a clients circumstances. Advisers are pitted against each other: a tally chart in the open plan office shows who is winning.

Initial letter sending Raman on the Work Programme, addressed to Mohammed

I was summoned by a letter which began dear Mohammed. The majority of its advisers were white and the client base in the main Black and Asian. On one visit a white female adviser insisted in abbreviating my name to Ram. Intraining claims to respect diversity and to treat its clients with fairness.

The advisers themselves seemed only trained to a narrow remit of bullying people off the dole and policing their set of policies the threat of benefit sanctions was threateningly repeated in any correspondence to ensure the compliance of the job seeker. The whole meting was very procedural.

Intraining’s programme is compulsory: the least a client can expect is to attend every fortnight for a work-focused interview (basically the same procedure as in a job centre, but at extra cost to the tax payer). The time I spent in their office amounted to a monitored job search (looking on the Internet in a confined monitored space) and filing in a form to get my bus fare back and signing on. Intraining keeps a client on their books for two years and if you were to secure employment off your own back they can approach the new employer for information to satisfy their statistics.

When I was asked what my long-term career goal was, I replied that I wanted to be a plumber and had been offered a place at a local college and would take it up were it not for the £200 fee that was required to secure one of the few places on this popular course. I was told that aspiring to be a plumber was akin to wanting to be an astronaut. It is of little relevance to their agenda. Despite signing off a number of months ago I’m still hounded by their phone calls.

Of course in a European Union where the hawkish mantra of cuts to public services (dictated to by unaccountable credit rating agencies) is the rule of the rulers a more supportive system, and investment in meaningful training, for those who are sinking in a sea of suffocating living costs seems unlikely in post Thatcher England as long as the current status quo is allowed to be politically dominant.

Letter making clear that sanctions will be applied if Raman does not attend

Letter saying sanctions will apply if Raman does not attend

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Communities Against The Cuts, March/Rally and Social on 27th April

Communities Against The Cuts, who are standing candidates in the Kings Norton and Bournville wards for the council elections on May 3rd, are holding a rally and march, followed by a social event on Friday 27th April.

The rally, demonstrating against cuts in the wards concerned and to raise the profile of their candidates, meets at 5:30pm outside Kings Norton Leisure Centre, where speakers will talk about the effect of cuts on local services, before proceeding along the Pershore Road to the Cotteridge Neighbourhood Office, where Stirchley and Cotteridge Against The Cuts began their campaign, and then to the Stirchley Community School to hear about the privatisation of our education services.
The march will finish opposite Stirchley Library, at the group’s campaign offices.

After the rally, they will go across the road to the British Oak for a social event with music and comedy from No More Numbers, The Inebriati and Barbara Nice.
The social event begins at 7:30pm and you are welcome to come to that whether you can make the rally or not. Entrance to the event is £5 / £3 concessions.

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