Category Archives: Stockland Green Against the Cuts
Around 15 people, aged from 7 to 70, met at 11am and marched down the high street, past workfare exploiters like the British Heart Foundation and Greggs, and down the dual carriageway past the job centre and Jack Dromey MP’s office, handing out leaflets and talking to passers-by.
The demonstration was largely met with support, shoppers on the high street stopping to share their stories of unemployment, economic hardship and ideas about what should be done. A few disagreed, still hanging on to the idea that austerity can work, despite the mounting evidence against it.
After the march there were some speeches, talking about how workfare undermines paid jobs, increases employment and fails to help people find work; about the difficulty for young people to find jobs in the midst of the worst economic times for over 100 years; about the closure of education and training opportunities with the scrapping of EMA, increased university tuition fees and the downsizing of Connexions; about the difficulties disabled people are facing with cuts to DLA, the closure of Remploy, the handling of work capability assessments by ATOS and attacks on the NHS; about the general economic situation and what the alternatives to austerity are.
A good demo, and great to see one of our local groups active on their high street, taking the argument to the suburbs, to people’s neighbourhoods and communities, rather than staying in the city centre.
- Scrap Workfare!
- Create Real Jobs!
- Restore EMA!
- Save Connexions!
- Stop the Privatisation of Leisure Centres
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
This affects people all over the city, and Handsworth Against the Cuts were out on Saturday, raising awareness and gathering signatures on a petition to keep these services in house.
Outsourcing and privatisation are all too often used as a way to cut costs at the expense of services or through changes to staff pay and conditions, rather than as a way to improve the services provided.
As the council seek to make £100m of additional cuts over the following year, we can be sure that this is being used as a way to cover some of that, or at least it will be if we let it.
On Saturday 10th March, Birmingham Against the Cuts will be co-ordinating local groups and individuals around the city to petition at leisure centres that are under threat.
As we receive confirmation of times, this list will be updated. If you live near one of these centres, or use it regularly, go and join them, or tell us that you will be there between certain times, and we will put that on this list and try to get people to join you.
A city-wide petition is being finalised, and will be available to download and print closer to the day, along with leaflets and posters.
— Alexander Stadium,
— Beeches Pool,
— Billesley Indoor Tennis Centre,
— Castle Vale Pool,
— Cocks Moor Wood Leisure Centre,
— Erdington Pool,
— Fox Hollies Leisure Centre,
— Handsworth Leisure Centre, 11am on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th Handsworth Against the Cuts
— Harborne Pool and Fitness Centre,
— Kingstanding Leisure Centre,
— Linden Road Leisure Centre,
— Moseley Road Pool: 11am onwards, Friends of Moseley Road Baths
— Nechells Sports Centre,
— Newtown Pool,
— Northfield Leisure Centre 11am onwards, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
— Saltley Leisure Centre,
— Shard End Leisure Centre,
— Small Heath Leisure Centre,
— Shenley Court,
— Sparkhill Pool and Leisure Centre, 11am-1pm Sparkhill & Springfield Against the Cuts
— Stechford Cascades,
— Stockland Green Leisure Centre,
— Tiverton Road,
— Wyndley Leisure Centre.
Please note that this is not a complete list – the tender document says that these are included, but does not limit privatisation to just these facilities – so if your local centre is not listed here, do not think you are safe.
Email us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com or just turn up if your centre already has times listed.
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.
People and Placards
Stalls, Leafletting and Petitions
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
Almost every public sector union is taking part in this co-ordinated action, and there are plenty of things happening in Birmingham. This strike is not just about pensions, it is also about cuts, and defending the whole idea of a public sector providing services on the basis of need.
From 4am there will be pickets at refuse collection depots around the city, with other workplace pickets running from 7am. Some confirmations of pickets have been received, and are listed here, but you should expect them at almost every council and government workplace.
Parents should have heard from schools as to whether they will close, but with almost every teaching union, including the NAHT head teachers union, on strike we expect to see all schools closed.
At 9am the first local demo, organised by Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, gathers in Cotteridge. It will proceed to join the Selly Oak rally, and then the main TUC demo.
10am sees 4 local rallies around Birmingham:
Selly Oak – at the University South Gates, by the New Bristol Road (the newly opened bypass)
Handsworth – By Handsworth Library, Soho Road
Erdington – Six Ways
East Birmingham Heartlands Hospital
These rallies will feed to the main TUC march which assembles from 11:30am at Lionel Street Car Park, and should proceed through the city centre. We have had uncomfirmed reports that Birmingham City Council want to charge us £10,000 to walk through our city! We hope that the TUC do not bow to pressure and pay up, and that we march through the city in defiance of this blatant attempt to prevent us expressing our democratic rights.
The march proceeds to a rally at the NIA which beings at 1:30pm – doors to the NIA open at 12:30pm. The rally has many speakers from the union movement:
CHAIR: Lee Barron, CWU Midlands Regional Secretary & Midlands TUC Chair
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary
Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary
Janice Godrich, PCS President
Karen Jennings, Unison Assistant General Secretary
Martin Johnson, ATL Deputy General Secretary
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary
Barry Lovejoy, UCU Head of Further Education
Joe Morgan, GMB West Midlands Regional Secretary
Tony Woodley, UNITE Executive Officer
Tomorrow is set up to be a great day – all it needs now is you!
Remember that you can sign up to a union on the day and still strike, so at work today, or on the picket lines tomorrow, make sure anyone who isn’t unionised knows this, joins up and comes out tomorrow.
Stockland Green Methodist Church, Slade Road, ErdingtonOnly 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.
Teachers in the NUT and ATL unions have voted in favour of taking strike action over changes to pensions.
92% of NUT and 83% of ATL members voted yes – a huge mandate for action, especially for ATL, which has not been on strike since the 1960s.
These are the first of the unions balloting for action on 30th June to declare – PCS results are expected later this week, whilst Unison – who are balloting council workers in Birmingham for 2 days of strikes – will come next week.
The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire. Contributions to the scheme will rise, by up to £1,250 / year for teachers, whilst the retirement age will be increased and pensions payments reduced, firstly by moving from RPI to CPI to calculate increases, and secondly by changing from a final salary scheme to a career average scheme.
At our public meeting on May 26th, Doug Morgan from NUT spoke about public sector pensions, debunking some of the myths surrounding “gold-plated” pensions. The average public sector pension is around £4,000 per year. He also argued that the only thing maintaining private sector pensions (which he described as awful) were the public sector pensions (described as OK).
Doug will be speaking at the Stockland Green Against the Cuts meeting on Wednesday (tomorrow). If you live in North Birmingham, why not go along and hear first hand about why both parents and private sector workers should be supporting the strike.
We need to support teachers in their action to defend their conditions. This is not a selfish action, but an action taken to defend a vital public service. I think it is fair to say that everyone benefits from a strong public sector education system, and an attack on the teachers is an attack on schools.
Parents, let your teachers know that you support them in this action. Anything which reduces the rewards for doing an often very difficult and emotionally hard job reduces the quality of people who will consider doing that job. Standards of teaching haven risen vastly in this country over the past decade, in no small part because of the extra investments that have been made, including pay rises.
Worsening the pension scheme will only act as a disincentive to enter or stay in teaching, so although it will be annoying having to work out what to do if your child’s school closes for the day, this strike is about the long term future of their education.
So if your child’s school closes on 30th June (and we hope that lots of schools will be closed), why not bring them along to the strike rally?
Another local group has formed to fight cuts happening in their area. Stockland Green joins other local groups around the city to organise in their community.
On Wednesday 15th June, they will hold a public meeting, at the Baptist Church, George Road, near Marsh Hill, Erdington.
The meeting begins at 7pm, and is being jointly held with the NUT.
Doug Morgan from Birmingham NUT will talk about schools and the pensions changes and strike. All teachers and residents welcomed to participate in the discussion following the address by Doug.The Con-Dems attacks on ordinary people’s living standards are meeting increasing resistance from organisations like ours, and, importantly, trade unions.
On 30th June teachers, job centre workser, civil servants, lecturers and benefits advisors in the NUT, ATL, UCU and PCS unions are set to defend pensions and public services.
Both issues should be important to us all.
Firstly, pensions. Already pensions are being cut as the Government lowers the inflation increases by moving from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Worsening public sector pensions will make it easier to cut private sector workers pensions. Therfore we call on everyone to support the teacher’s strike to defend their own pensions – their fight is ours.
Secondly, public services. We see the Tories wanting to cut and privatise all of the services that we hold dear. In education, the axing of the schools replacement proramme means many working class children will continue to learn in conditions not fit for the job. The attempt to privatise our schools through Academies and free schools will also remove education from local authority and democratic control. On top of this the removal of EMA, cutting courses and increasing tuition fees will price many children out of college and university.
500,000 people protested against cut sin London in March. Now the unions are organising against the Con Dem plans. SGAC supports the actions and will be holding this meeting on 15th June at 7pm, at the Baptist Chruch, George Road, Erdington. Please go along and be part of fighting back against Con Dem plans.
For details contact Ron Dorman on 0121 373 6846