Category Archives: Meeting

Don’t Cut LGBT People Out! – Report from our Meeting

Following the success of the Pride is a Protest! bloc at Birmingham Pride on 2nd June, we held a meeting called Don’t Cut LGBT People Out, with Geoff Dexter speaking about how cuts are affecting LGBT people in particular.

Geoff spoke about how cuts are affecting LGBT people, and the resistance that is growing within the LGBT community, and the need to link liberation struggles to the fight against austerity:

The formation of groups such as Queers against the Cuts and Queer Resistance in London and large protests and vigils held in defiance of serious hate attacks point towards a small but growing tendency that recognises that our fight for liberation is far from over, that our issues are inextricably linked to the wider struggle against austerity and for an alternative and that our lived experiences do not match the formal equality that has resulted from our struggles … The gap between this formal equality and our lived experience systematically runs through every aspect of our lives, and this is exposed by the rise in hate attacks and by the cuts

You can hear the whole speech here, or download the text if you’d prefer to read it:

The speech was followed by a good discussion, which unfortunately didn’t come out very well on the recording, and a resolution to continue to build links with LGBT community groups, to unite their continued struggle with ours and connect with those suffering at the sharp end of the austerity agenda.

Many of the facts that Geoff mentions in his speech were included in our previous post about this meeting, and can be read here.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 9th July, and we will again have a speaker, either on disability benefit cuts & the olympics, or on the upcoming housing crisis, followed by a discussion about the subject.

Everone is welcome to these meetings, which last around 1 hour and are followed by a 30-45 minute organising session for Birmingham Against the Cuts.

2 Comments

Filed under Meeting

NHS Workfare demo & Save Your Railway meeting reports

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Events, Meeting

Birmingham Pride is a Protest! – Organising 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

1 Comment

Filed under Events, Meeting

Boycott Workfare Meeting March 29th

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
7pm-9pm

Unite the Union
Transport House
211 Broad Street
Birmingham
B15 1AY

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Events, Meeting

Photo Review of the Year 2011

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.

Campaigns

Save Our Neighbourhood Offices

Save EMA

(c) Geoff Dexter-Sherborne Publications

Council Cuts

Save The NHS

Hands Off Bournville School

Save Merrishaw Day Nursery

ATOS / Disability Benefits

Save Charles House

Demonstrations

Mayday Demonstration

February Council Cuts

March 26th

30th June

Sep, Lib Dem Conference

June, Justice For All

Nov 30th

Oct, West Midlands Pensioners Convention

Public Meetings

Held by Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

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

Credit: Geoff Dexter

Feb Council Cuts Meeting

July, Hands Off Brum Services

People and Placards

March, International Women's Day

J30

July, Lobby of Council

J30 Strike

Sep, Lib Dem Conference

Nov 30th

Banners

Save Youth Services

Connexions

UK Uncut

Aston Uni Students

NCAFC Birmingham

UCU City College

Strikes

Dec 2010, Refuse Worker Strike

April, Connexions

May, EHRC

30th June

Sept, Unison at Lifford House

30th Nov

Nov 30th

Dec, Montgomery Primary School

Occupations

Nov, University of Birmingham Students occupation

Occupy Birmingham (now in the gardens behind Centenary Square)

Stalls, Leafletting and Petitions

Kings Heath

Feb, Kings Heath

April, Sparkhill

April, Cotteridge

Dec, Handsworth Library Petition

Ministerial Visits

February, Ian Duncan Smith

(c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Productions

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Birmingham City Council, Erdington Against the Cuts, Events, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Meeting, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, Stockland Green Against the Cuts, strike

Open Letter about Council Consultation sham

Dear Sir/Madam

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.

Resolution 1

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.

Resolution 2

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.

Stuart Richardson

3 Comments

Filed under Birmingham City Council, Meeting

Report from Kings Heath council consultation budget meeting

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:

Dave Stamp:

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.

Aidan Harris:

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Meeting

Cuts “Consultation” Meeting in Longbridge

Another so-called consultation meeting was held today in Longbridge, for local people to consult on the council’s proposed budget.

The council officer told those in attendance that Birmingham City Council had already decided they need to make £65 million worth of cuts but wanted local people to help them decide which bits they should cut and which bits they should save.

No one from the public supported the platform and many of those in attendance were service users and carers. There was also a sizeable turnout from the Labour Party and Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts and some UNISON members.

Parents from Charles House, a service which offers respite care for disabled children, told the meeting that getting respite care meant the difference between families staying together or their children having to go into care. Most of the parents had to fight an average of 5 years to get a place yet the council have accused the capacity service of being under-used. One of the parents had 18 rejections from foster carers who didn’t have the skills to support their child safely yet the council wants to close Charles House and provide parents with respite from foster carers instead.

A number of local people involved in or supported by services funded by “supporting people” pointed out that the savings made by providing preventative services far outway the short term gain of cutting those services.

Questions were raised by Richard Burden MP as to why councillors were not prepared to be politically accountable and why they wouldn’t question the budgets handed to them by central government, as well as on academies, connexions and putting finance before the rights of children. Councillor Ian Cruise raised the issue of some children’s centres having 20% cuts locked into their budgets for next year.

People also raised the question of how much has been spent on consultants. None of the questions raised were answered, but many individuals were offered private one to ones after the meeting and vague promises of how concerns would be followed up.

Despite resistance from the supposedly independent chair Chris Khamis, who wanted feedback to be taken in focus groups and selectively recorded by scribes, the meeting was able to pass two motions which were both carried with a few abstentions and none against.

Motion 1
This meeting rejects these £65 million of cuts as politically motivated and non-acceptable.

Motion 2
This meeting opposes all the cuts Birmingham City Council is proposing for the 2012/13 budget as politically motivated. We further call for the reinstatement of all jobs and services cut as part of the 2011/12 budget in particular the allowances removed as part of the new contract, which savagely cut the pay of some of the lowest payed council staff.

Report from Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts. Kings Heath and Moseley against the Cuts will be attending the consultation meeting on Wednesday in Kings Heath, and would love you to join them. There are also further meetings around the city – do get along to one to oppose these cuts.

See also a report from B31 Blog with more quotes and information from the meeting

2 Comments

Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Meeting, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Stockland Green Against the Cuts Public Meeting

Wednesday 7th Septmber, 7pm-9pm
Stockland Green Methodist Church, Slade Road, Erdington
Only unity of all communities working together can ensure success in fighting for jobs and against the cuts, so please make sure you are there with neighbours, friends and relatives to decide what we will compaign on.

Note The ConDem government asked the EU to check its austerity budget proposals before it went to Parliament. The Labour Party did not complain about this EU control over Britain’s spending and loss of democracy.

All three Stockland Green Councillors (two Labour, one Tory) will be invited to come and listen to our concerns.

Since Stockland Green Against the Cuts (SGAC) was formed in December 2010 we have done a lot of work opposing privatisation of the NHS, both publicly and by door to door and held several meetings at the Baptist church in George Road.
However, much more needs to be done. There are 900,000 young unemployed with no hope of a real job and yet skilled manufacturing jobs are being shipped abroad. For example, 1,400 jobs at Bombardier (Derby) plus thousands of associated jobs have been given to Siemens, Germany (Thameslink contract) by the government although Britain’s future depends on manufacturing to create welath – note, the contract can still be stopped.

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is being phased out and university fees will be around £9000. How many Stockland Green students can afford that and where are the apprenticeships? Are the cuts and lack of jobs causes of the recent riots?

Many people are being forced to pay more and work longer for a reduced private pension and state pension increases will be smaller in 2012 by linking them to CPI instead of RPI. This year the winter fuel allowance is reduced to £250 from £300 for pensioners under 80 and for those over 80 the cut is from £400 to £300 but fuel prices have been allowed to rise again by about 18% this autumn when oil prices have gone down.

The only remedy is for the people themselves to act and demand their say. Come along to the meeting on the 7th and have your say on what we should campaign on.

Please contact Ron Dorman on 0121 373 6846 for more information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Meeting, Stockland Green Against the Cuts

Lobby of Council on care & support service cuts

A lobby at the council house was held yesterday, called jointly by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Social Work Action Network (SWAN), UNISON Birmingham Council Branch, Right to Work and Birmingham Against the Cuts.

The five groups have come together this month to campaign on cuts to social and care services that the ConDem council are seeking to bring in, as part of the £212m council cuts.

The council plans to cut back services to disabled people in particular, with care only being available to those adults judged to have “critical” needs.  This means that adults with only “substantial” needs will no longer have access to care services.  Originally the council said that this would affect 11,000 people, but have more recently said that it will only be 4,500 people who are affected – we, like Graeme Horn from UNISON, are inclined to believe the original figure as the council are likely to have tried to massage the numbers down following an outcry from the people of Birmingham about these horrendous cuts.

Following the announcement of the cuts, a legal case was started which resulted in a judicial review in May that the cuts were unlawful, as the council had not done an equality impact assessment or consulted properly over the cuts.  This review has forced the council to start a new consultation, which begins shortly.  DPAC and SWAN decided to use July to campaign on this because the UN is currently monitoring the convention on the rights of disabled people – so at the same time the government is monitoring the report from the UN, they are cutting services to disabled people.  They then contacted UNISON, Right to Work and Birmingham Against the Cuts to build a united campaign which can be effective in its resistance to these cuts.

Graeme Horn from UNISON Birmingham said:

We need to make sure that during the consultation as many people as possible examine what the council are doing and speak up in defence of vulnerable and disabled people

Rich Moth from SWAN added that

We have chosen to start the campaign now because of the court victory under the Disability Discrimination Act concerning the £33m cuts to care and support services.  What we want to do coming out of that judgement is to build a campaign because Birmingham City Council will come back with proposals that we expect to be more or less the same and we need to build a campaign to fight these discriminatory cuts which kind of show who is really going to suffer – not the bankers who caused the crisis but disabled and vulnerable people.

Godfrey Webster from Birmingham Against The Cuts spoke about how it is important to make sure that the narrative of the neccesity of cuts is defeated

The problem is that the majority of people think the cuts are inevitable and there is no alternative.  We need to get the message out that there is an alternative

False Economy is a good website to start with to explore the alternatives to cuts, and the reasons why they will not cure the deficit problem.

Matt Raine from Right to Work chose to highlight one particular cut

Mobility allowance is being stripped from old people.  This will mean that they are effectively prisoners in their care homes

He talked about the importance of linking up this struggle with the wider struggle against cuts, mentioning the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham in September, and the Tory conference in Manchester in October.

Sam Brackenburg from DPAC spoke about how disabled people need to be active in this struggle.  He said that he was fighting so that he could have the support that he needed to have an independent life, to not be dependent on other people or have to accept the scraps that fall from the table.  Calling for all disabled people to be proactive in this struggle and to join DPAC in taking action to defend their benefits he said

Don’t cause a fuss, stop a bus

referring to this action that DPAC took to highlight issues of access and the cutting of mobility allowance, as well as broader cuts to benefits (Sam is one of the activists handcuffed to the back of the bus)

There will be more events from this campaign this month, as well as ongoing work as we seek to prevent the council from cutting vital services.  To steal SWAN’s slogan we want the budget to be based on peoples needs, not private greed.

On Thursday (7th July) Birmingham Trades Council has its monthly meeting, at 7:30pm in the Council House.  Bob Findlay-Williams from DPAC will be speaking.

On the 20th July there will be a public meeting at Transport House on Broad Street (TGWU/UNITE building) with speakers from the groups and services affected by these cuts.  Join the Facebook Event and invite your friends.

Come along to these events and help the campaign to ensure that the consultation that the council are being forced to undertake is not a sham, and that vital services for vulnerable and disabled people are protected.

All photos (c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Publications – see more photos in his Flickr stream

1 Comment

Filed under Cuts, Meeting