Monthly Archives: June 2012

No Cuts To Benefits! No Cuts To Public Services! Emergency Protest Tomorrow After Claimant Sets Himself Alight.

No Cuts To Benefits! No Cuts To Public Services! Emergency protest tomorrow.
3pm, Selly Oak Jobcentre, Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, B29 6SP

The Birmingham Mail has today reported that a man set himself alight outside Selly Oak job centre, as desperation set in following problems with payments.

This is not the only incident of people harming themselves because of problems with benefit payments or sanctions placed on them by government imposed measures or workfare profiteers.

Birmingham Against the Cuts believe this incident should be laid squarely at the door of Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne who are implementing these viscious cuts and austerity – not benefits claimants or jobcentre workers.

Instead of tackling the rich and the banks who owe £120 billion in uncollected, evaded and avoided taxes, are responsible for the crisis and mass unemployment the government are cutting the very services that collect the taxes, support unemployed people and provide essential benefits people need to survive. We fear that if this continues we will see more dreadful instances like this.

What is worse is this government are actively promoting a diatribe of vile rhetoric in the press which are attacking benefits claimants day-in-day-out. We should not allow this cruel and calculated bid to divide ordinary people from one another to distract us from the fundamental issues. It is this kind of rhetoric which has seen a rise in the attacks and abuse disabled people and benefits claimants have experienced. The postings on right wing forums today mocking the benefit claimant for setting himself alight is just further evidence of this.

Birmingham Against the Cuts say benefits claimants are not to blame – but neither are jobcentre workers. Quoted in the Guardian the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents Jobcentre Plus staff, says that they feel ill-equipped to deal with the volume of work, vulnerable claimants and cutbacks. One jobcentre telephone adviser told the Guardian that the change had been handled “abysmally” and that they feel ill-equipped and “helpless” when talking to distraught customers on the phone, who are phoning up to ask about other options.”A lot of them are very distressed. They are asking us what to do … how are they supposed to live. And there’s nowhere else we can signpost them to, there’s literally nowhere for them to go.”

Several coroners’ reports into suicides have mentioned benefits decisions as a contributory factor, but ministers have always been careful to avoid acknowledging a link. Don’t let them get away with it.

Stand up for benefits claimants and stand up for public services tomorrow at 3pm outside Selly Oak jobcentre.

On Tuesday 10th July, Boycott Workfare are holding a one day conference on welfare issues – anyone who is concerned about their benefits and financial situation should come to this event.

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ATOS, Disabled People and the 2012 London Olympics

The olympic torch comes through Birmingham tomorrow (30th June), and today we have a guest post by Linda from Disabled People Against Cuts:

One might be forgiven for wondering just why and how ATOS ( ‘Licensed to Kill Disabled People’ by the Condems) and the corporate butchers of Bhopal Dow are two of the most prominent Olympic sponsors. How can such odious corporations be given worldwide publicity and credibility?

In exchange for lucrative payments from the government ATOS happily continue to hound and harass disabled people into even further poverty and to drive many to suicide.

Over 1 million disabled people, many too ill to work face losing their benefits or have already lost them. If you become ill or disabled in the future this could happen to you, even if you’ve worked and paid National Insurance contributions most of your life.

People with life-threatening illnesses, some with terminal cancer, and mental health conditions live in fear of their forthcoming ATOS assessments acknowledged as totally flawed by CAB, McMillan Cancer charity and a host of others. The tick-box computer assessment system takes no account of real life problems people face or the complexity of many long-term illnesses and disabilities. Yet within minutes this process which violates the fundamental medical principle of ‘first do no harm’ can strip disabled people of essential benefits and rob them of their lives.

Real-life horror stories of assessments and outcomes now abound and can be read in papers on an almost daily basis yet still the government refuse to halt or change these vicious tests. Some of the reports are little short of torture. A woman forced to try to walk to prove she couldn’t who fell onto the ground and had to be helped up again crying by her mother. Another woman forced to try to walk down a long corridor also to prove she couldn’t walk. People waiting for major heart surgery or those who have had numerous heart attacks killed by the stress of the assessments and being told they are fit to work.

A Grimsby Fisherman suffering from horrendous blood clots and open ulcers and struggles to walk who has been told by specialists at two hospitals he would be risking his life if he went back to work lost his disability benefits.
A more recent case is that of a Dundee man found fit to work who is deaf, blind and tube-fed and who needs 24 hour care. How could anyone with such profound impairments be found fit to work?

Yet this is how ATOS treats disabled people.

The BMA Local Medical Committee Conference recently voted unanimously for an end to these notorious Work Capability Assessments as Scottish GPs did earlier this year. Dr Stephen Carty has likened the UK Government’s welfare reform crackdown on disabled people to the “barbarism” of the Nazis.

The cost of these sometimes murderous assessments to the taxpayer are enormous as appeals rocket costing a predicted £50 million in tribunal costs in 2012 alone. The backlog of cases has reached epidemic proportions with tribunals sitting even on Sundays to try to reduce the 10 month backlog of cases. Yet even if a claimant wins their appeal against their assessment, and most do, the treadmill experience of being retested can start again immediately for no justifiable reasons.

As the blood of disabled people continues to drip steadily from the hands of our Olympic sponsors they should hang their heads in shame at the terror they are causing to those who deserve support not victimisation from our welfare state.

If you would like to join us in expressing your disgust at ATOS and its sponsorship of our Olympics then please email their CEO at Thiery Breton at thierry.breton@atos.net (http://www.ceoemail.com/se.php?id=10159)

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Police Privatisation: Join the lobby of West Midlands Police Authority

Police privatisation demonstrationHuman Rights First! Stop the Corporate takeover of Policing services

Join the lobby of West Midlands Police Authority

At 10am on Thursday 12th July outside West Midlands Police HQ, Lloyd House, Colmore Circus, B4 6NQ in Birmingham City Centre.

On 12th July West Midlands Police Authority will meet to discuss how to take forward the privatisation programme of critical police services worth £1.5bn. West Midlands against Policing for Profit is opposed to this privatisation in principle and calls for the tendering to be cancelled.

The shortlisted companies include corporate giants KBR and G4S who between them have questionable human and labour rights records from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq, from Occupied Palestine and to the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK.

If the procurement process continues after 12th July we are calling on the Police Authority to give full consideration to the human rights records of the companies bidding for the BPP contract. It can exclude companies from tendering on grounds of ‘grave professional misconduct’. We are calling on the Police Authority to rigorously examine the human rights records of these companies.

KBR, is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, and has had extensive contracts from the US Government to provide services to support the military occupation of Iraq. KBR’s subcontractors have allegedly engaged in human trafficking and the use forced labour to provide services for KBR in Iraq.

KBR is one of the companies that built the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The facility at Guantanamo was not only used to detain people without trial and to carry out interrogations with torture, the site itself was built in a manner designed to dehumanise and terrorise those held there.

In the UK G4S has been the subject of 700 complaints over the treatment of asylum detainees of which 130 were upheld. G4S has been implicated in the deaths of a number of asylum seekers in its custody; in 2010 G4S lost a Home Office forcible deportation contract after the death of an Angolan deportee, Jimmy Mubenga, while being restrained on a flight back home.

G4S is also the subject of a global call for action by Palestinian civil society on the grounds it ‘helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.’

West Midlands Against Policing for Profit is asking people to support the lobby called by UNITE and UNISON and to show solidarity with Police service staff under threat from this privatisation, but also to oppose the corporations bidding to run these critical policing services.

Human Rights First! Stop KBR! Stop G4S!

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Report and Photos from Tuesday’s Unite Local Government Demo

Around 80 local government workers in the Unite Union gathered outside the ICC yesterday, along with 10 Birmingham Against the Cuts members in support, to demonstrate at 3 years of pay freezes for local government workers.

This is part of the People, Pay, Pensions campaign that the union is running.
Local Government workers have seen pay decrease by 11% in real terms as a third year of pay freezes takes place. Local government workers are not even being offered the £250 raise that other public sector workers are seeing. The employers are refusing to take part in discussions over the pay claims.

The demonstration heard from Unite officials and workers who spoke about the cuts.

A Unite official spoke about how local government employers are refusing to take part in talks, because they know that they are in the wrong for imposing pay freezes.

The employers have not enough honoured to agreement they have got in that they have refused to go to arbitration. The reason I believe that have refused to do that is because in reality they know that any arbitrator would find in favour of local government workers

A local government worker talked about the attacks on local government pay and conditions:

It’s now time to say enough is enough .. we need to stand united together … we will be stood in the face of employers from now till doomsday to get what we deserve, and what we deserve is a decent pay rise and pension

A youth worker from Lancashire said:

I work in an environment where our workforce has already been cut – probably our workforce has halved in the last 2 years … I’m now being told there will be a third year of pay freeze, an 11% pay cut over the last three years

A community and youth worker talked about the cuts that are happening to their public services

If we don’t do this, the generation that follow us are just going to have nothing. Never mind the big society, never mind investing in the future. Trade unionism if it works and we work in solidarity to protect. You’d think you were trying to grab something things that’s not ours, pay cuts are ridiculous because we can’t afford to buy the things in the local shops and communities that allow the jobs are there in the first place

An excellent demonstration for a group of workers who are under heavy attack both locally and nationally from the swinging council cuts imposed by the ConDem coalition.

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Why We Need a New Generation of Social Housing, and How We Achieve That – Public Meeting

On Monday 9th July at 6:30pm we will be holding a meeting with speakers and discussion looking at housing benefit cuts, the case for investment in council housing and Labour’s plans for Birmingham.
This will be held at the Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, B4 7LR. This is wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets, and children are welcome though we cannot provide a creche facility. If you have any accessibility requirements please contact us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com

Tom from Birmingham against the cuts will be talking about how a new generation of social housing provides and alternative to the cuts and to cuts in housing benefit, which threatens to make thousands homeless in Birmingham and hundreds of thousands homeless around the UK.
We will also be talking about the new Labour council’s plans for Birmingham housing. Labour have said that Birmingham needs 70,000 new houses by 2026, but have not said how this will happen.

This will be followed by around 30 minutes of discussion about the issue and what we can do about it.

After this there will be around 45 minutes for organisational and planning discussion about anti-cuts activities in Birmingham.

Please come along to this meeting, especially if you are concerned about cuts to housing benefit or the introduction of universal credit.

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Unite Demo Tomorrow – Stop the Squeeze, End the Pay Freeze

Unite the Union are holding a demonstration tomorrow, 26th June, at the Local Government Employers’ annual conference, at the ICC on Broad Street, B1 2EA.

Meeting at 11am in Centenerary Square.

For a third year in a row, workers employed in local authorities across the country have had their pay claim rejected by the employers.
As a result, since 2009 the men and women who care for our elderly, empty our bins, keep our streets clean and safe, work as youth workers, teaching assistants, librarians and social workers have had their pay slashed by a staggering 13%.

Unite says “enough is enough”

The pay of local government workers is shrinking against a backdrop of many years of below inflation pay rises and the fastest rise in the cost of living in the last 20 years. Most are now struggling to make ens meet.

Local government workers are not the high earners that the government would have us believe – 70% earn less than £21,000 a year and almost half earn less than £17,802.

Three years of pay cuts is way too long – and plans to abolish the separate bargaining arrangements is yet another blow to this embattled workforce.
This has nothing to do with sharing the pain of deficit reduction, but has everything to do with breaking our public services.

Local government employers have inflicted three years of pay freezes on its loyal workforce.

These are not the highfliers who caused the economic crisis, yet they are being made to pay for it.
Local people need local services delivered by fairly paid local government workers.

Show your support and join the protest. For more information, see the Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign page.Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign logo

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Communities against the Cuts Public Meeting

Labour’s Plans for Birmingham and our Alternative

Wednesday 27th June. 7.30pm Cotteridge Church Centre.

Communities Against the Cuts meeting, with a speaker talking about Labour’s plans for Birmingham following the local elections where Labour took control of Birmingham City Council, and to look in detail at what the response should be.

There is the commitment to give wage rises for several thousand Council employees and the right to ask a question at full Council meetings. But there is also the decision to hold the District committees (renamed from Constituency Committees) in the Council House at 10am in the morning. So much for devolution!

Communities against the Cuts stood candidates in the recent local elections who promised to vote against public service cuts if elected.

They will also be discussing our work against academies and benefit cuts.

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