Category Archives: Media/Press

It’s letter writing time!

With Unison council workers going on strike on the 21st, now is a good time to write to our local newspapers expressing our support for their actions to defend their pay and conditions, and our services.

A series of positive letters in the Birmingham Mail, Post or Sutton Observer will have a couple of effects – firstly, it makes it more likely for the papers to cover the strike itself, and to do so in a positive manner.  Secondly it will encourage GMB, UCATT and Unite council workers to vote for strike action in their ballots.  It may also encourage other public sector workers to strike, or non-unionised members to join up.

And of course these letters will also tell workers going on strike that they have the support of the people of the city, the people who through council tax, actually pay their wages and pay for the provision of the services.

Email addresses for the papers are:


Whilst we might provide a form letter if we were asking you to write to MPs, for this a form letter is no use, each letter needs to be personally written.. but here are some facts you might wish to include, that have been mentioned by Graeme Horn at our meeting last week, Caroline Johnson at previous meetings, or from Unison newsletters. These are real examples of pay cuts that will happen if the new contract takes effect.

  • Mrs S, currently on around £14,000/year will lost £1,780 (12%);
  • Mrs B, on 19k, will lose £3,662.40
  • Mrs F, who will lose 30% of their pay – taking a whopping £4,453.35 pay cut from a £14,621.59 salary.
  • One home carer who is currently on around £22,000/year has been told he will be losing £6,000/year under the new contract – a 36% pay cut!
  • A home care assistant on £14,829 will lose £2,270
  • A library assistant will lose £1,100 from a salary of £10,980

You can find more examples on page two of this Unison newsletter (PDF)

In addition to pay cuts, there are changes in conditions you can mention. This contract will mean that workers can be made to work any job (at their pay grade), doing any hours, at any location in the city.
This means that someone who signed up to a job in a library near their home, working on weekdays to fit around their children, could be told to go and work in a housing office, across the other side of the city on weekends.
Condition changes such as these are intolerable, and represent something totally different to the contracts that council workers signed up to. Whilst it may be acceptable for someone to choose a job whose location, hours or even duties change with no notice, it cannot be acceptable to force those conditions onto an existing workforce.
It is hard to believe that people with a family, friends and social network around them would be happy to work under such conditions and insecurity. We are often told that public sector workers do their jobs because they are a vocation, but how can you have a vocation when your job role might change at no notice?

Changes to pay and conditions such as these will only serve to worsen the provision of council services, by acting as a disincentive for people to apply for roles. In many cases, it may actually make it impossible for someone to work for the council, as they made need the security of a set location and hours in order to fit with their commitments outside of work (such as bringing up a family – something which the ConDem coalition nationally, if not locally, are very keen on).
I could probably have a rant about how these changes will not help to build stronger family units, but perhaps one of you could think about phrasing that in a constructive manner for your letter to the newspaper?

If you are a regular user of any council service – and most of us are, in one way or another – you could write a letter from that perspective – that you support the strike, because you recognise the attack on the service you use that these pay and condition changes represent. These kinds of letters are always good. You might think to comment on how the refuse workers cleaned up the city after the riots – and this is how we reward them!

And if you want to mention the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration on Sunday 18th, that’d be grand.

So get writing!


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Making use of the False Economy website

False Economy is is a website dedicated to helping us fight the cuts.  It’s quite likely many of you reading this post have already heard about it and visited the website, or use the facebook page or twitter feed to keep up to date with news about the cuts.

For those of you who haven’t visited the website, go and look.  It’s a great resource for information about why cuts are the wrong cure.  There is also information about cuts in your area or service sector, and about events and campaigns you can go to in your area.

This part of the resources could be better.. and this post is to encourage you (and me) to help improve it.  All we need to do is to add stuff to it – and the website is designed for us to do that.  This post is going to briefly run through some of the different things I know you can do with the website, and then give a more detailed instruction on how to add a cut to the database.  The other things you can add (testimonies, campaigns and events) work in a similar fashion, but if people want a similar set of detailed instructions for those, then let me know).

Now I like to think that I keep a pretty complete and up to date list of events in Birmingham on our upcoming events page, but there’s always a good chance I won’t hear or get told about something that’s happening, and if you’re not in Birmingham then False Economy is the best place to go to find groups or events happening around you.

For anyone who is doing an event, add it to the list. There is a ticker of events on the front page, and sometimes they put events out on facebook or twitter.  Also people do look here for events – we get a few referrals here from our events each month

Any cut that you know is happening, can be listed on the website.  Doing so will help False Economy map the cuts, and also build a database of cuts that people can search through when they need some facts and figures to help them win arguments about certain cuts, or cuts in general; or for information to go on leaflets.

Along with cuts comes testimonies – and this is where people who are, or are going to be, affected by cuts can tell their stories.

It is important we add to this database, so that we can get as much information out as possible, and give people a place to go to to find out about cuts in their area.  So that if anyone says that they don’t know what is being cut you can point them that way.

There is too much happening for any individual or organisation to get all this information out or collate it in a single place, but by working together (“crowd-sourcing” in new media lingo) we can..

What follows is a pictoral instruction on how you add a cut.  If you know how to do this, or prefer just to go to the website confident you can find your own way around (and I think it’s clear and easy to use), stop reading and click

Otherwise read on… click the pictures for a bigger image.. I hope that I’ve struck the right balance between simplicity and being patronising, but  if you’re confused then comment here or email for clarification, and if you feel patronised, accept my apologies.

This is the front page.  You need to login to enter a cut, and will need to register if you haven’t already done so.

On the top bar there is a menu option called “cuts and testimonies”, click this to go to the Cuts & Testimonies page

On the bottom half of the page you can find quick links to events or cuts

This takes you to the cuts and testimonies page.

Click on the button indicated to add a new cut

You also use this page to add testimonies, or as the start of a search for information about cuts and testimonies by area/region/nationwide or sector.

This page is used to put the details of the event in.  Try to be as specific as possible to help accurately map cuts, and to help people who are searching for information about cuts to find it.

An exact name for the service being cut is great, as is indicating the relevant sectors.  If you have a specific postcode, use it.  I’ve just used B because it affects the whole of Birmingham and Solihull.

Then click send.

After posting you’ll get sent to this page, which is more or less what someone will see when they look at it.  You’ll be able to edit the entry after you’ve sent it.

It gets queued for approval, which usually happens fairly quickly, at least for events.. this is the first cut I’ve posted, so I’ll let you know how long this one takes – though straight after a bank holiday weekend, it might be a little more delayed than normal.

So next time you see a news story with details of a cut happening around Birmingham, or if you work somewhere that is being cut, or use a service that is being cut and can link to a reasonable source then add a cut (or a testimony – whichever is more appropriate, preferably both).

Check it has not already been added first of course – especially if you want to add a cut that has already been announced.


Having written this post and submitted the cut yesterday, this morning False Economy put it out on twitter:

you can view the cut entry on their website.

I don’t know if they tweet every cut, testimony or campaign or if they just do some occasionally, but obviously it’s great to see them mention the cut you’ve added, knowing that thousands of people on twitter will see it, and a few might click through to find out more.

Thankyou False Economy team.


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Fortnum145 Campaign Launches

A group supporting the Fortnum145 has launched today.

We have already stated our support for those arrested after taking peacefully protesting in Fortnum and Mason on March 26th, and would ask you all to share these links. is their website

Facebook page

@FM145 and #Fortnum145 on twitter

At least 11 of the 138 currently charged are from Birmingham, so we need to show support and solidarity for those who are working against the cuts.

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UB40 Speak out against the cuts

Birmingham music legends UB40 speak out against job losses and cuts to services in Birmingham.

Following the recent shocking news that one person in ten in the region is unemployed, proud Brummies, pop group UB40, feel impelled to go public to express their outrage with the current state of job losses and continuing cuts to services, including Youth Services and the Connexions agency that helps young people find employment.The group came to fame and were chart-toppers at a time of austerity and large-scale unemployment in the early 1980’s.

The name of the group was taken from an unemployment benefit signing-on card of the time, and one of their hit songs was entitled One in Ten, referring to the unemployment level of the time. This struck home with the youth of the time, and was instantly related to.

This will take place in Victoria Square at 11am today.  There will be a demonstration at the Government Offices for the West Midlands from 5pm this evening as well.

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Budget Day Activities – Wed 23rd

On Wednesday (23rd March), the ConDem coalition announces it’s budget, which will detail the cuts for the following financial year.

Birmingham Against the Cuts will be holding a press conference at 11am in Victoria Square, with local music legends UB40 and speakers from PCS and other unions.   This will be a loud and lively event, so come along and enjoy it.

Then for everyone working, there will be a demonstration from 5pm-6:45pm outside the Government Offices for the West Midlands, St Philips Place.  There will be some speakers from local campaigns against cuts as well as some open time for anyone who is around to speak about how the cuts are affecting them.

Alongside this demonstration will be some theatrical direct action, but the details of that will remain under wraps until the evening…


All  of this builds to the national TUC demonstration on Saturday – a run around of the table at the planning meeting tonight counted over 60 coaches going from Birmingham – a similar number to the Stop the War march in 2003, which saw over 1 million people take to the streets.

Saturdays demonstration will be huge, if you need coach spaces check False Economy (click the image on the right) or email us at

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1,000 join protest against youth cuts in Solihull

The Birmingham Mail has reported on the national save our youth services rally held in Solihull.

A 12-year-old from Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency spoke of his concerns over the threatened closure of youth services in his area as he joined a huge rally against proposed cuts in Solihull

Nicky Wishart was among around 1,000 people at the rally in Solihull, staged by Unite to launch a campaign against “catastrophic” cuts to youth services.

Unite warned that one in four youth services such as volunteering projects and youth clubs in England faced spending cuts of up to 30%.


Save Birmingham Youth Services have been campaigning locally against cuts in youth services


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Ring and Ride bus service faces cuts amid grant fears

The Birmingham Mail reports that Ring and Ride bus service faces cuts amid grant fears

Cuts to this service will affect 70,000 elderly and disabled people in Birmingham, and staff have been given redundancy notices as the charity waits to find out how much of its funding is to be cut by Centro, following their own budget reductions.

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Unison newsletter on cuts

ConDem Cuts Savage Birmingham City Council

Local Government has been given one of the highest rates of cutbacks in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, a 28% cut over 4 years or at least a third when allowing for inflation.

To make matters worse, the Government has front-loaded the cuts into the first year, with around half the overall cut in 2011/2. Birmingham is currently consulting on its budget for next year and is proposing £177m of cuts plus an additional £40m to allow for ‘budgetary pressures’, such as the aging population. In the consultation papers and the latest Section 188 notice to accompany it, broad proposals for around £100m of these cuts are made with an expected 2,500 full time equivalent jobs to be cut out. All Directorates are affected.

Adult Care Goes Super-Critical

The biggest cut proposal is also the cruellest.  Adults and Communities are planning to reduce the threshold for receiving care support from Substantial Need to a new super-strict criteria of Critical Personal Care. The Social Services nationally define need in four standard categories, Low, Moderate, Substantial and Critical.

Currently services are provided for people in the top two categories. Now Adults and Communities intend to restrict services to just part of the highest, the Critical category for those with personal care needs.

Substantial care is defined as there is, or will be,

• only partial choice and control over the immediate environment; and/or

• abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur; and/or

• there is, or will be, an inability to carry out the majority of personal care or domestic routines; and/or

• involvement in many aspects of work, education or learning cannot or will not be sustained; and/or

• the majority of social support systems and relationships cannot or will not be sustained; and/or

• the majority of family and other social roles and responsibilities cannot or will not be undertaken.


People currently or in the future meeting this criteria will not receive services. Even those with critical need who require social but not personal care will be excluded.

Thousands to Be Privatised

4,000 School meals staff, cleaners, music, outdoor, Health Education and Schools Advisory services staff are proposed to be floated off into a ‘social enterprise’ which will sell its services back to the schools and council.

1,000 Adult Social Workers and other Assessment/Care Planning workers are also to be formed into another ‘social enterprise’ by 2013. Hundreds could move into a Leisure Trust and hundreds more working in Building Cleaning, Urban Design, Civic Catering and Building Consultancy are proposed to be transferred into a ‘Wholly Owned Company’.

150 back office staff in the Council Tax section are to be transferred to Service Birmingham.

UNISON opposes the privatisation of services and is concerned for job security in these private co-operatives. Jobs can be cut instantaneously if the council reduces its purchasing from these companies. Any redundancy costs would have to be borne by the ‘social enterprises’ themselves solely. Who at this time of public service cutbacks would dream of setting up new businesses dependent on contracts from the council ?

Social Enterprises are a face saving way for the Council to privatise services. This is an ideological drive to privatise, not to save money.

Can We Stop These Cuts ?

By standing together, and with the help of the public and service users, Yes We Can. The first step in our Battle for Birmingham’s public services is to PROTEST as loudly and publicly as we can. That’s why we are planning our own Birmingham Demonstration Against The Cuts on Saturday 26th February and we are all joining the TUC National Demonstration for the Alternative – Jobs, Growth and Justice on Saturday 26 March 2011.

26 February Birmingham & 26th March TUC London Demonstrations

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Eric Pickles “Delighted” by Birmingham Council Cuts

Birmingham Budget Cuts reports:

Birmingham Budget Cuts rounds up the planned local cuts after Eric Pickles – Conservative Minister for Local Government – responded to questioning by Northfield MP Richard Burden by saying he was “delighted” that Birmingham City Council’s budget would be cut by eight per cent, as reported by the Birmingham Post.

Birmingham Post Article

7,000-10,000 job losses, as many as 26,000 council workers facing reviews to pay and conditions that will probably lead to cuts in pay (either directly or effectively through the loss of shift allowances or the addition of extra hours without compensation).  Cuts in council services such as Connexions and library services and many more losses to the people of Birmingham.

This delights a Tory minister.

Join us on the streets on the 26th February to demonstrate against the cuts.

There are also many actions coming up over the next month in and around Birmingham, see the upcoming actions page for more details.

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Salma Yaqoob on the Refuse Worker Strike

Council to blame for rubbish pile-up

Salma Yaqoob, Respect councillor for Sparkbrook ward speaks about the Refuse Worker strike, placing the blame for the rubbish pile up squarely at the door of the council who are seeking to implement £4,000 pay cuts

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