Tag Archives: ATL

J30 in Photos Part 2

So many events, so many photos.. more than enough to make a second post.. so here we are! (First post is here)

UNISON

Lifford House

Yardley

At the Rally

Kings Heath demo

Small Heath Demo

Handsworth Demo

NUT

On the march

Banner on March

Inflatable

ATL

Flags on the march

Placard

Flag on the march

UCU

Placard

Banner at the rally

Banner on march

Connexions

Broad Street demo

Marching to Victoria Sq

At the rally

PCS

Picket Line

Banner

Placard

Solidarity from other groups

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Aston Against Fees and Cuts

Handsworth Against the Cuts

Handsworth Library

Handsworth Library

Handsworth Library

With thanks for the photos to:

@JhonCooper – Flickr Set

DPAC – Flickr Set

Jo Stevenson from Handsworth Against the Cuts

Becca Kirkpatrick

Vez Kirkpatrick

John Cooper – Flickr Set

Fiona Raychell

Euan Smith

 

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J30 Mass Strikes in Photos

(c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Publications

Thursday 30th June (dubbed J30) saw mass strikes around the UK from NUT, ATL, UCU and PCS Unions over pensions.  In Birmingham we also had UNISON members striking – council workers out because of pay cuts and changes to conditions, and Connexions members out over job cuts.  With hundreds of pickets, 14 feeder demos and the main strike rally & march, there is far too much to cover in a word report, so here are pictures from the day (A second post of pictures is found here

Pickets

Selly Oak Library

Norfolk House

Central Library

City Centre House

EHRC

Victoria Square House

Hamstead Hall Secondary School

Handsworth Leisure Centre

Redfern Fleet and Waste Depot

Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Weather Oak Day Centre picket line

Northfield Demo

Strike Rally


8,000 people on the March

Speakers

I’m afraid I don’t recognise most of these people, and I wasn’t there this afternoon – so if anyone can fill in the blanks, I’d be grateful 🙂 – Just tell me in a comment

Rhiannon Lockley, Halesowen College UCU

Caroline Johnson - Birmingham Unison

Kevin Courtney - NUT

People

Contributors

With thanks to everyone for the photos:
Geoff Dexter Sherborne Publications (all the ones with GD in the filename, if you hover your cursor over an image) More of his photos here and here

Chris Hughes from Strichley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
Sue Thomas
Sharon McCourt
Fiona Rachell
Edward Bauer

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Final preparations for J30

Tommorow sees mass public sector strikes, and Birmingham will see some of the largest strikes, as teachers and civil servants are joined by council workers and connexions to strike for the alternative.

Over the last few days, final preparations have taken place for the hundreds of pickets, demos and rallies that will happen tomorrow. I have been trying to get as much information as possible and map out the actions so you know where you can go – at the moment there are over 70 actions listed around Birmingham, but this is by no means a complete list.
Have a look at the map to see what is happening near you, join a picket line in the morning (if there’s none shown near you, I’ve probably just missed it – PCS should be out at all Job Centre’s, and UNISON council workers will probably be picketing all the leisure centres).
Join one of the UNISON demos at 10am, UCU at Bournville College at 9:15, Connexions on Broad Street at 10:45 or the rallies in Wolverhampton and Stourbridge which will all converge on Victoria Square at 12noon for a huge regional strike rally, with national and local speakers from all the unions and groups involved.

Over the last few days, unions and activists have been working hard to build Thursdays’ events, and to take the argument for the alternative to parents, members of the public and of course the workers themselves.
From door-to-door leafletting and street stalls to the Unite The Resistance meeting last night, hard work has been going to make sure that tomorrow is a huge carnival of resistance to the ConDem’s austerity agenda, and the next stage in the struggle against cuts after March 26th’s March for the Alternative.

At the Unite The Resistance meeting last night, which close to 100 people attended, we heard from Alan Whittaker – past president of UCU – who spoke about how much teachers will be losing if the pension changes come in. For a teacher aged 25, the total loss over 25 years of retirement will be nearly £300,000.  Even for those nearing retirement, the loss will be in the tens of thousands of pounds.

Alan told us how in 2007 the teachers pension scheme was audited and was in good stead, and how there is no reason other than ideology to make the changes to pensions the government are proposing.

Talking about the anti-cuts movment, he said

This Thursday we are going to see [the British revolt] come to life with a vengeance

Sue Bond – Vice President of PCS spoke next, continuing from Alan, saying that since March 26th there has been talk about what next, and that tomorrows action is what is next:

On Thursday, we are sending a message to the government that we will not pay for a crisis we did not cause

She told us how both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee say that civil service pensions are both affordable and sustainable – much like the teachers pensions, and that money saved will not go to make pensions affordable in the future, but will be going to pay off the deficit that was not caused by civil servants.

Sue then outlined some of the alternatives that are supported by PCS and the TUC – closing the tax gap (£120bn of tax avoidance, evasion and uncollected tax each year – enough to cover the whole of the deficit) & investment in jobs and growth (in particular green jobs in the manufacturing sector).

Calling for unity, and crediting the students and UK Uncut for inspiring the cuts movement and the unions to take action, see said that the private sector should not be divided from the public sector – “we want quality pensions for all”, and called for everyone to “rise like Lions and win”, finishing by saying

We defend every single job and oppose every single cut

Caroline Johnson from Birmingham City Council UNISON talked of the devastating changes the council are trying to force onto council workers.  She told us how people are facing huge pay cuts and also savage changes to conditions, which mean the council will be able to tell them to work any job on their pay grade, at any location in the city, at any times (including evening, weekend and unsociable hours).

Sheila, a care assistant currently earning £18,404 will lose £4,741.  Aleena, a part-time cleaner earning just £3,087 will lose a whopping £847.  Donna, a home care assitant on £14,829 will see her pay cut by £2,210 and Jeanette, who is part-time, earning £10,168 will lost £4,453.  Meanwhile, those who are above a grade 4 will not see their pay cut at all – in fact the only thing they are going to lose is their car parking space.

These pay cuts will only save £10m from the council budget so it’s not about saving money – the council spent £60million last year on private sector consultants – so called “experts” who come in to advise on “savings” (otherwise known as advising the council on how to give more money to private sector companies like Capita).  These pay cuts and condition changes are about setting the council’s services up for privatisation.

Calling for support for the council workers, Caroline said:

We are losing all this, and our pensions

She said she was very pleased to be striking alongside other unions on Thursday, that their members are concerned about going it alone, but they know that over the summer they will have to do that.  She does not think the council will back down easily and anticipates further strikes over the summer and autumn to prevent the imposition of this disgusting contract in November.

Finally, Kevin Courtney from NUT spoke, he briefly mentioned pensions but decided not to cover the same grounds as Alan Whittaker UCU, and instead talked about how we are all in this together:

People were all in the same boat in the titanic, but if you were in first class you got on a lifeboat.  If you were in steerage you drowned

Like other speakers, Kevin talked about tax avoidance, calling Philip Green (who in 2005 paid his wife £1.2billion, avoiding £285million in tax) “astonishingly avaricious”.  He said that the pensions fight is a dispute that teachers can win, and that if we do score a victory it will change the dynamic of the anti-cuts movement.

He said that the government has completely lost the confidence of the teaching proffesion, pointing out that ATL have never balloted for strike action in 125 years, but they got an 83% vote for strike, and the fact that a heads union will ballot for strike shows how badly the government have misjudged the mood of the teachers.  He also said that this could not just be about teachers for them, but about all public sector pensions.

Saying that “the cuts are completely without justification”, Kevin explained how in negotiations, the government would not justify their position.  When asked why the pensions are changing from RPI to CPI, the government simply said “we think it is appropriate” without explaining why it is appropriate, or why they will use RPI for student loans.  He said the government produce no arguments – that this is simply an attack on public sector workers.

Kevin finished by saying that this is a choice between whether you give in or whether you fight

On this Thursday we start the fight to defend our pensions and to strike for the alternitve to cuts and job losses

There was then time for discussion from the floor, and people were keen to link up the strikes to the wider fights against cuts, austerity and neo-liberalism.  Various things were mentioned, including the decision by Connexions to join the strike on Thursday, and the demonstrations that will take place for the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham (18th Sept) and the Tory conference in Manchester (2nd Oct).

This Thursday, the fight back continues – what started with the Tory conference march in Birmingham in October last year, and was given a huge boost by the student demonstrations in November and December, and groups like UK Uncut, through the March for the Alternative, local council cut and mayday demonstrations and will not just continue but grow and spread tomorrow.  J30 will be a date to remember.

All photos (c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Publications.  More photos from the Unite The Resistance meeting can be seen here

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Mass Strikes in Birmingham on 30th June

UNISON today announced that it’s council workers will be on strike on the 30th, this is shaping up to be the largest strike in recent history.

We have already reported that teachers and civil servants voted for strikes in national ballots that could see over 500,000 public sector workers on strike over pensions.  The best way to keep up with what is happening around the country is J30strike.org or on twitter as @J30Strike.

Locally the strike is set to be huge, with the addition of up to 9,000 council workers.  As well as that UCU members at Birmingham City University and in the Birmingham Adult Education Service have previously been balloted for strike and will join in on the 30th June.

I will be endeavouring to get a list of pickets and other activities around Birmingham on the 30th, and mapping them out on this page

There will be a huge, regional, strike rally in Birmingham, assembling at 12noon in Victoria Square.  Invite people to the facebook event.  Strikers from around the West Midlands will come to the city centre of Birmingham for the rally, with workers in Wolverhampton holding a rally from 10:45-11:15am and then coming into Birmingham en masse.

 

With so many workers on strike, this rally should number in the thousands, and will march around the city centre.

Kevin Courtney (NUT) will speak at the J30 rally

Speakers at the rally include Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secratary of the NUT), Hugh Lanning (Deputy General Secretary of PCS) and Michael McNeil (UCU Head of HE).  We expect to have confirmation on speakers from ATL and UNISON as well.  There will also be local speakers from all the unions involved and someone from Birmingham Against the Cuts.

We call for everyone who can to attend the rally.  If you work, can you book a day of annual leave, or come an join us in your lunch hour?  If you are a student, benefit claimant, pensioner, parent or anyone else who is not working on that day, come and attend.  Make this about the cuts, and austerity in general and not just about the specific strike actions on that day.  This strike is part of the anti-cuts movement – obviously and directly in the case of UNISON, and although the pensions question has been ongoing since before the crisis, the way in which the ConDem’s are seeking to change public sector pensions (whilst leaving MPs’ pensions alone of course) fits directly with the austerity programme, and the wider anti-public services ideology that pervades this coalition.

hugh lanning (PCS) will speak at the J30 rally

Show the strikers that they have your support.  I will by posting a post sometime this week with more of the arguments as to why public sector worker pensions should matter to private sector workers, or people who don’t work.  You can read some of it in the posts about the Teachers and Civil Servants strike decision.

In the case of UNISON it’s pretty simple – huge cuts in pay and big changes in condition for workers cannot improve the services provided by the council, who are also cutting funding by a whopping £212million this year.  As council services degrade, the ideology of the ruling parties suggest to me that they will look to outsource those services to the private sector, probably with similar results to the childrens homes (in short: costs more for a worse service).

They are striking to defend public services.  The dispute they can raise is about pensions, pay and terms and conditions.  With attacks on the unions coming from politicians, it is important that we show the strikers that they have our support.  So parents, if your school is closing on the 30th June, why not bring your kids along to the rally.

 

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Teachers vote YES to strike

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.

And we are of course encouraging everyone to take two days annual leave for the 29th and 30th – two days we hope will be packed full of anti-cuts activity.

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?

 

 

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30th June Strikes

On 30th June, we will see huge strikes taking place by public sectors workers.  Teaching unions NUT and ATL, and the civil service union PCS have voted YES to strike action on the 30th.  In Birmingham, UNISON are balloting their council workers for strikes on the 29th and 30th.

On the 30th, there will be a strike rally, assembling at Victoria Square at 12noon, with a march around the centre back to a rally, also in Victoria square.

We think it is important to stand up for our children’s education in schools, council services, our local colleges and our civil service too.
Council workers, Teachers, Lecturers and Civil Servants (who do everything from collecting taxes, serving our courts and providing a service to unemployed workers in jobcentres) all provide vital services to people in our city.
At the moment the government is trying to rob them of their pension. We are often told that public service workers have gold plated pensions and because people are living longer they are not sustainable, but this is not true.
It is the banking crisis at fault, not public sector workers. The government bailed out the banks over a trillion pounds and rather than get the money back from them, they are making US ALL pay.

What is worse is that there is over £120 billion in taxes which remain unpaid, evaded or avoided, by the rich.
It is very unfair the government wants to raid public sector pensions by cutting them by a third, increasing the pension age to 68 and making workers pay 50% more for it. This is the pension fund of people who have worked all of their lives to educate our children, help people find work and keep us safe.

If the taxes were collected from the rich there would be no need to be any cuts at all. That is why we urge you to support the public sector strike on the 30th June.

Printed leaflets are available to collect from the Unison offices, or you can download and print them yourselves from our resources page.

We will be doing a lot of leafletting in the run up to the 30th, please get in contact if you can help us – either email BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com or contact the local group if there is one in your area

If you are on facebook, attend the facebook event and invite your friends.

If you are not in one of the balloting unions, can you book annual leave on the 30th to show solidarity with strikers and join us at the strike rally? This could become a huge show of resistance to the cuts, and perhaps spark an upsurge in union activity heading into the autumn.

 

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Education workers balloting for strikes

Over the past 2 weeks, the teaching unions – NUT, NASUWT and ATL – have held their national conferences, against a backdrop of “ringfenced” school budgets which actually means real-terms reductions in funding, cuts in the building maintenance grant of 80% and the removal and/or privatisation of school support services from Birmingham City Council.

Edited to add: Head teachers association vote to ballot on strike action over pensions – getting awfully close to a general strike in education.

We know of some schools making redundancies – 37 staff going at a school for children with behavioural issues, a significant number of whose students are children in care meaning that there are not parental networks getting outraged about these redundancies which will have a significant impact on very vulnerable children.

We are also hearing news of other mainstream schools across Birmingham preparing to make redundancies amongst teaching and support staff, or not looking to replace staff who are retiring or moving to another school and the national media tells us that demand for training on handling redundancies has skyrocketed.

Coventry teachers strike against Academy Plans

Meanwhile more schools declare themselves to be academies, which means that they are no longer bound by national pay and conditions agreements, and staff face working longer hours for no more pay.  In the long run creating a huge amount more work for unions as they will have to negotiate individually with every academy – potentially tens of thousands of employers – rather than a single negotiation.

And finally there are pension changes, which the NUT said this about before their conference:

The attacks on teachers’ pensions, along with those of others in the public sector, have been well documented by the NUT. In summary they mean teachers will have to work longer, contribute more and get a smaller pension. The combination of a pay freeze and increased pension contributions alone will create a 12% fall in real incomes for those at work.

This attempt to make workers pay for the economic crisis is justified by reference to our ‘gold-plated’ pensions and the so called apartheid between private and public pensions. The average teachers’ pension is less than £10,000 with only 5% getting over £20,000 – so much for ‘gold plated’. The real pension scandal is the fact that many workers in private companies have no pension scheme at all while a few get vastly inflated pensions. How is the Government going to force private companies to ensure that all workers get a pension scheme? Another argument trotted out is the unaffordability of teachers’ pensions. Yet in 2007 our pension scheme was reformed and this was said to be affordable and in fact the costs of the scheme have fallen, as Hutton has confirmed.

The real reason for the attack on pensions is the Governments’ decision to pay off the debt caused by supporting the banks. They aim to make us pay for the crisis by driving down our pay and our pensions as well as attacks on our conditions of work. Rather than seek to collect in all the avoided taxes and make the wealthy pay a greater proportion of taxes the Government has decided to make those who have the least pay for their crisis.

In the previous attack on our pensions, in 2005/6, the public sector unions began to organise collectively and managed to defeat some of the major changes the Labour Government wished to impose. This wasn’t a total victory, we had to concede a two tier pension scheme and greater individual contributions, but it did give us a way to fight using collective action. We need to build on that now at both a local and a national level. Local Associations and divisions should be taking the lead in organising local public sector alliances to defend our pensions and to build action at both a local and national level.

At the conference, the NUT passed a motion in favour of co-ordinated strike action (this was almost unanimous with just 2 abstentions) over changes to the pension scheme.

ATL, who have not been involved in industrial action since 1979 also passed a motion to ballot for strike.  Both unions will ballot during May for a planned strike on 30th of June – the same day that PCS are balloting for strike action (more on that in a post tomorrow).

NASUWT has "No Confidence" in Michael Gove

Meanwhile, NASUWT passed a motion at their conference stating that they would be willing to undertake industrial action to defend a system of national education in the country, and passed a motion of no conference in Michael Gove, the Tory education minister.

With UCU having gone out on strike at universities last month, the education sector is looking to become a battleground for unions to defend their members and the children in school against cuts, and June 30th is set to be a huge day of strikes across the country with up to a million people out on strike that day.

All the main teaching unions seem to be lined up together with a willingness to strike and could grind the education system to a halt if they chose to do so.

This Saturday (30th April) is Birmingham’s Save our Services Mayday demonstration.  Mayday is the workers bank holiday and traditionally a time for the union movement to reflect on its achievements.  This year though it should be a day for unions to look forward and show a willingness for action, and provides an opportunity for everyone to come out on the streets to show their support for strikers.

This is particularly important for teachers who are often reluctant to strike because they do not want to damage any pupils education.  They need to know that they have the support of parents and their community in striking to defend the education system.

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