Thursday was a busy day in Birmingham, with a meeting about the privatisation of police, a demonstration at Sandwell Hospital about the use of workfare labour by Sandwell and Birmingham Trust and a public meeting about cuts to railway staff and fare hike rises.
You can read about the police privatisation demo here.
Sandwell Hospital Workfare Demo
Around a dozen local residents and workfare campaign activists demonstrated outside Sandwell Hospital, where unemployed people are being forced to work for their benefits, undertaking activites such as cleaning and tidying wards and delivering food and drinks to patients.
The demonstration, called on Monday when the story was reported in the Guardian, was well supported by passers by, who expressed concerns about possible impacts on patient care from the £125m cuts faced by the trust, and the use of unpaid labour, people who the trust admitted could face the loss of benefits if they decided that the work experience at the hospital would not be useful to them, or they did not want to risk undermining someone else’s paid job by providing free labour to the organisation. Right to Work have also reported on the demonstration
You can read more about why we oppose workfare here.
Save Your Railways Meeting
A public meeting called by Birmingham Trades Council and the railway unions RMT, Unite, ASLEF and TSSA to discuss the McNulty Report and attached command paper which recommends the closure or reduction in hours of 87 out of 90 London Midland ticket offices (which includes the Centro local railway system). This comes alongside above-inflation rail fare hikes to one of the most expensive (and definitely the most confusing) ticketing systems in the world.
Many stations around Birmingham are looking at being completely unmanned, with only automatic ticket machines available for use – assuming they haven’t been vandalised. This can only lead to people getting the wrong tickets or paying more than needed. No machine can have the knowledge or skill to navigate the huge number of different tickets to ensure that railway users get the cheapest correct ticket available to them.
Having unmanned stations will also lead to increases of crime at stations and no doubt far more litter and graffiti around as well.
The situation may become so bad that the train operating companies or whoever runs the station decides they need people are at the station and get involved with workfare schemes to get free labour to replace the paid jobs, as happened with Finsbury Park London Underground Wardens.
The unions are running a campaign – Action For Rail, and you can get involved with this right now by writing to your MP – go to their site for letter templates and more details about the campaign.
You can watch Mick Cash’s talk in full for more details about the McNulty Report & command paper, and how they will affect your railway services. Start acting now before the staff get removed and ticket offices closed – they won’t be re-opened, just replaced with unpaid workfare labour at the taxpayers expense… and the private railway companies already get far more money from us than British Rail used to cost.
Filed under Events, Meeting
Organising meeting for students, trade unionists and community groups and campaigns to organise for Birmingham Pride on the 2nd June.
Tuesday 29th May, 7pm at Birmingham UNISON, 19th Floor, McLaren Buidling, 48 Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 7LR
Students have an open invitation to trade unionists, anti cuts groups and community campaigns to join them to keep alive the traditions of Pride as a Protest! This meeting is to help groups to make arrangements to march together and protest together over issues of common concern.
Last year thousands of people lined the streets of Birmingham as the largest Pride parade for years weaved its way through the city centre – organisers say that the event was attended by some 100,000 people over two days. The Midlands LGBT Coalition teamed up with the NUS LGBT group to form a Pride is a Protest! bloc that was met with large cheers as it passed through the streets. This was vital in ensuring the mood of Pride was also political, despite being remaining heavily commercialised. Unfortunately many of the other community groups, organisations and trade unionists were disconnected from this bloc by commercial floats.
Our struggle for LGBT liberation is far from over as the government embarks on biggest single attack on ordinary people since the great depression. Cuts and austerity hit LGBT people hard. It is vital we reclaim our tradition of Pride as a protest – what it was orginally designed for- and bring them alive to meet the biggest challenges we have faced in a generation.
This meeting is open to all trade unions, community groups, campaigns and organisations that support LGBT liberation and would be like to take part on the day.
Speakers include: Trish Clinton National NUS LGBT Committee
Filed under Events, Meeting
We were planning to wait until we had confirmed speakers, but with the storm that has blown up around the Tesco permanent nightshift workfare position advertised, we thought it best to make the event announcement now.
Thursday 29th March
Unite the Union
211 Broad Street
Boycott Workfare public meeting, in association with Birmingham Trades Council, Birmingham Against the Cuts,IWW West Midlands, Right to Work, Occupy Birmingham, DPAC and Youth Fight for Jobs
Speakers invited from Boycott Workfare, Public Interest Lawyers and USDAW.
With particular thanks to Unite and the lovely people who work there, who have accomdated us, after we decided that the room at the council house would be too small (it was booked before this became a national news story), and other rooms were not available. Carrs Lane was also considered before someone pointed out that the upstairs rooms are not wheelchair accessible.
The Unite building is fully wheelchair accessible, with a lift up to the first floor where the meeting room is, and accessible toilets. Full accessibility information to follow.
The main part of this meeting will be for people to talk about their own thoughts and experiences of workfare, and to discuss taking action to encourage more companies to pull out of the scheme so that it collapses.
Over the last 10 days, Waterstones, Sainsbury’s Co-op, TK Maxx and HMV have all said they will no longer (or have never) used workfare labour. Poundland are reported to be reviewing their involvement in the scheme.
Together we can act to put pressure on the remaining companies to withdraw, and ensure that everyone who works gets paid a proper wage for the job, and that benefit claimants do not get used to undermine paid roles or cover for government cuts.
You can read about why we are supporting Boycott Workfare here, and there is a local meeting in Kings Heath on March 7th.
Additionally, there is a national day of action on Saturday 3rd of March, and we expect to take part in an action on that day, decision will be made tomorrow, so more news next week.
Filed under Events, Meeting
Birmingham Against The Cuts was formed at the end of 2010 to fight the council and central government cuts. 2011 has been a busy year for all of us, with some truly memorable events. You can click on a picture to go to an article about it.
Tell us your outstanding memory of 2011, a year which has seen huge demonstrations around the UK, direct action, two huge strikes and of course the legwork of stalls, leafletting and petitions.
Our first organising meeting for 2012 will be on January 9th, 6:30pm, Unison Offices, 19th Floor, McClaren Building, 47 Priory Queensway, B4 7NN. Please come along to help plan campaigning for next year.
Save Our Neighbourhood Offices
Save The NHS
Hands Off Bournville School
Save Merrishaw Day Nursery
ATOS / Disability Benefits
Save Charles House
February Council Cuts
Sep, Lib Dem Conference
June, Justice For All
Oct, West Midlands Pensioners Convention
Feb, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts meeting
September, Build the Alternative, Broaden the Struggle
Oct, Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March Recreation
Nov, Support the Strikers, They Strike For All of Us
Feb Council Cuts Meeting
July, Hands Off Brum Services
People and Placards
March, International Women's Day
July, Lobby of Council
Sep, Lib Dem Conference
Save Youth Services
Aston Uni Students
UCU City College
Dec 2010, Refuse Worker Strike
Sept, Unison at Lifford House
Dec, Montgomery Primary School
Nov, University of Birmingham Students occupation
Occupy Birmingham (now in the gardens behind Centenary Square)
Stalls, Leafletting and Petitions
Feb, Kings Heath
Dec, Handsworth Library Petition
February, Ian Duncan Smith
April, Francis Maude
June, David Cameron
With thanks to everyone who has contributed photos over the year.
For more photos of Birmingham protests this year, see Geoff Dexter’s Flickr Page
Can I severely object to the report on the Sutton Coldfield budget consultation meeting posted on the City Council website. The points made by several people at the meeting that the consultation was a fraud and the meeting would be recorded to avoid any serious criticism of the Council. These points have been confirmed by the report made of the meeting. I print below the report given on the website. The report is wrong on almost all respects. Two resolutions were put (listed below NOT “A resolution”). Since theofficials had copies of resolutions WHY weren’t resolutions listed on the website as part of the report? The report on voting on the resolutions is also inaccurate. Surely a school student could make a better effort in reporting the meeting!!
The first resolution was taken in parts the first part was passed with nearly all participants in the meeting voting with 3 against. The second part of the resolution was passed again with most of the meeting voting with 5 against.
Mostly obviously the second resolution is covered up in the report given it called for pay cuts for the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive Sephen Hughes who is on an obscene salary of £235,000 a year. Again WHY was the second resolution not published given it was passed unaminously? Were the Council officials worried that the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council would angry with them?
Report on the website:
A resolution was put against the cuts and in favour of reinstating cuts/staff salaries. Less than half of the meeting indicated, by a show of hands, that they were in favour.
Resolutions passed at the meeting.
Resolutions to the budget consultation meeting 3.11.11.
This meeting opposes all the cuts Birmingham City Council is proposing in the 2012/13 Budget.
It further calls for the reinstatement of all the cuts in the 2011/12 budget in particular reversing the massive pay cuts (up to £5,000 a year) being imposed on many City Council workers.
The official rhetoric on the cuts is that we are all in this together. In line with this establishment line it is agreed to support the following.
The percentage cut in the 2012/13 budget agreed by the Birmingham City Council will be the same percentage cut in Councillors allowances and pay of the Chief Executive and directors of the Council’s departments.
For example if the Council agrees a 10% cut in services for Birmingham people, the allowance of the Council leader and the pay of the Chief Executive will be cut by 10%.
I am also sending this complaint to the Birmingham Mail since they might not be so keen to COVER UP the details of this consultation meeting that you seemed to be committed to.
Birmingham City Council held a consultation meeting last night in Kings Heath, which was attended by many members of the public, who expressed opposition to the council cuts. Two of our supporters were in attendance and have said this about the meeting:
Just a brief report from a very angry Budget Consultation meeting in Kings Heath, where a packed community centre overwhelmingly passed resolutions opposing all cuts to services , and calling for cuts to executives’ pay equivalent to the “savings” rates proposed in the document.
Astonishingly, the entirely partial presenting officer (Burrows?) took a transparently partisan Tory stance on deficit reduction, and insultingly responded to the call for executives’ pay to be cut by observing that the Counciil’s work was so important, and so beyond the comprehension of mere mortals that it’s essential to pay the highest rates possible to ensure that the most special and wise individuals imaginable will apply for vacancies.
I’m still left with the mental image of the pigs gorging themselves on apples and milk while the rest of the creatures on Orwell’s farm starve.
Along with demands to know the audience’s political affiliations, misinformation about cuts to children’s centres and a disingenuous statement about not raising eligibility criteria for adult social services (not acknowledging that they had been forced to backtrack by a judicial review). A complete whitewash.
Council budget meetings continue, make sure you attend one near you and get resolutions passed against the cuts. You can look at reports from Sutton Coldfield and Longbridge meetings, or the Kings Heath meeting callout for examples of resolutions.
A list of meetings is in this post.