Tag Archives: cuts

Occupation and Demonstration Greet Labour Councillors Meeting To Vote On Budget Cuts Proposal

feb 4 demo (2)The Labour group met yesterday to agree internally their budget proposal which accepts the £110m of cuts to the council budget as a result of the Tory coalition slashing central government grants. The full council meets on Tuesday 26th February to discuss and vote on the proposals put forward. In protest at the cuts and the Labour group’s decision to implement them on behalf of the Tory coalition, 20 people occupied the council house balcony from lunchtime until 6pm, and a demonstration of around 200 people marched up New Street to the council house where the meeting took place. There was coverage of these actions in The Birmingham Mail and BBC Website.

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Save Colmers Farm Leisure Centre

Colmers Farm Leisure CentreBirmingham City Council have stated that they plan to close the much loved Colmers Farm Leisure Centre as part of their budget cuts. Needless to say, the community of South Birmingham are dismayed by this news.

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Next Year’s Birmingham City Council Budget Cuts Nearly Double To £120Million

Activists hold a quick picket of the council house at lunchtime after the announcement of further cuts

Birmingham’s Labour Party Group have today announced that there will be extra cuts in next years budget, likely to be around £50m on top of the £70m already known about. This will cost at least a further 1,000 full time jobs at the council at a time when unemployment continues to rise in the region. £600m will need to be cut from the budget by 2017 – nearly 50% of the discretionary spending that Birmingham City Council had before the financial crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio West Midlands this morning, Albert Bore, leader of the Labour Party Group, said this was due to further cuts in grants being made by Eric Pickles, the local government secretary and because previous cuts hadn’t delivered the anticipated savings. He said this signalled “the beginning of the end of local government as we know it”.
You can listen to Albert Bore on iPlayer from 2hr 15min of the Adrian Goldberg show this morning.

Whilst acknowledging that the effect of the cuts will be “horrendous” and bad for Birmingham residents, neither Albert Bore nor the Labour party are actually opposing the cuts, repeating that mantra that we have no choice but to cut. Instead they should be attacking austerity as a policy that is failing to reduce the deficit, has taken us back into recession and is hurting hard working people of the UK. He should be arguing for alternatives to the cuts, for instance arguing for increased spending to create the 70,000 extra homes Birmingham needs by 2026.

The further loss of jobs at the council, in addition to the 4,000 full time posts already gone, could not come at a worse time for a city whose unemployment problems are so bad the government cannot even manufacture falling employment figures using forced unpaid workfare placements.

Charlie Friel, a shop steward for Connexions said:

Further cuts in funding for our careers advice service and other council departments are going to hurt young and vulnerable people in this city, where youth unemployment has continued to rise despite falling nationally.

Tom from Birmingham Against the Cuts added:

Austerity is a failing policy, and increased cuts will only act to hurt vulnerable people in this city with the closure of services such as libraries and childrens’ homes a very real threat. The council needs to be speaking out against central government policy and not simply implementing it without a fight

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON Regional Secretary, said

Losses of up to 1000 full-time jobs have been mentioned which will not only be devastating for those individuals and their families but also for the services that the community relies on.

This will have further devastating effects on our local economy, which is already suffering due to the Government’s failing austerity measures.

The booing of Ed Milliband at Saturday’s huge TUC demonstration against Austerity shows that people in the UK want complete opposition to cuts, and a real commitment to alternative economic policies to produce growth that is focused on creating an environmentally sustainable economy.

Albert Bore will be doing a live webchat between 6:30pm and 7:30pm tonight, do join him and ask what he’s going to do to oppose these cuts for the people of Birmingham.
There will be consultations in November and December before announcements are made for exactly what is going to be cut in next years budget.

Whilst the council is not taking part in the opposition to central government cuts that is required, we need to be taking action. The next meeting of Birmingham Against the Cuts is on Monday 12th November and we will have a speaker from the FBU talking about fire service cuts. We are also planning a demonstration for the Autumn Budget Statement on Wednesday 5th December, when further cuts to government spending will be announced.

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Cuts to West Midlands Fire Service Will Put Lives At Risk

West Midlands Fire Service is facing cuts of 12.5% in its funding, which will lead to the closure of 11 fire stations and the loss of at least 600 fireman. The cuts were defended by the government, but have been condemned by West Midland MPs, and by the fire service itself.

The chief fire officer of the West Midlands, Vijith Randeniya has said that the cuts will have a bad effect on the service they provide:

People would be at much more risk, and our ability to respond in the way we currently do would be severely disrupted. Therefore, those people have an increased chance of losing their life or suffering injury, and therefore, damage to the infrastructure of the country as well.

Local Government Minister, Mark Prisk, claimed that falling numbers of accidental deaths at home from fires showed that cuts could be made to the fire service, completely ignoring the fact that increased spending in the past decade is likely the exact reason why deaths have fallen, and that cutting spending will probably reverse the trend, which has seen the number of deaths drop from 310 in 2001/2 to 187 in 2010/11.
We should also ask why he has so narrowly defined the statistic he is using – have deaths in industrial or office premises risen in this time?

Either way, the West Midlands Fire Service cannot expect to provide the same level of service, to respond as quickly to emergencies, with 11 fewer stations and 600 firefighters sat at home claiming job seekers allowance instead of protecting the citizens of the UK.
The reality of this is that more people will die, sustain serious injuries or suffer the loss of their possessions as the fire service becomes less able to respond to incidents quickly or with the level of equipment and personell required to safely tackle large fires. It is not just the public that will be put at risk, but also firefighters themselves.

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Report and Photos from Tuesday’s Unite Local Government Demo

Around 80 local government workers in the Unite Union gathered outside the ICC yesterday, along with 10 Birmingham Against the Cuts members in support, to demonstrate at 3 years of pay freezes for local government workers.

This is part of the People, Pay, Pensions campaign that the union is running.
Local Government workers have seen pay decrease by 11% in real terms as a third year of pay freezes takes place. Local government workers are not even being offered the £250 raise that other public sector workers are seeing. The employers are refusing to take part in discussions over the pay claims.

The demonstration heard from Unite officials and workers who spoke about the cuts.

A Unite official spoke about how local government employers are refusing to take part in talks, because they know that they are in the wrong for imposing pay freezes.

The employers have not enough honoured to agreement they have got in that they have refused to go to arbitration. The reason I believe that have refused to do that is because in reality they know that any arbitrator would find in favour of local government workers

A local government worker talked about the attacks on local government pay and conditions:

It’s now time to say enough is enough .. we need to stand united together … we will be stood in the face of employers from now till doomsday to get what we deserve, and what we deserve is a decent pay rise and pension

A youth worker from Lancashire said:

I work in an environment where our workforce has already been cut – probably our workforce has halved in the last 2 years … I’m now being told there will be a third year of pay freeze, an 11% pay cut over the last three years

A community and youth worker talked about the cuts that are happening to their public services

If we don’t do this, the generation that follow us are just going to have nothing. Never mind the big society, never mind investing in the future. Trade unionism if it works and we work in solidarity to protect. You’d think you were trying to grab something things that’s not ours, pay cuts are ridiculous because we can’t afford to buy the things in the local shops and communities that allow the jobs are there in the first place

An excellent demonstration for a group of workers who are under heavy attack both locally and nationally from the swinging council cuts imposed by the ConDem coalition.

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Unite Demo Tomorrow – Stop the Squeeze, End the Pay Freeze

Unite the Union are holding a demonstration tomorrow, 26th June, at the Local Government Employers’ annual conference, at the ICC on Broad Street, B1 2EA.

Meeting at 11am in Centenerary Square.

For a third year in a row, workers employed in local authorities across the country have had their pay claim rejected by the employers.
As a result, since 2009 the men and women who care for our elderly, empty our bins, keep our streets clean and safe, work as youth workers, teaching assistants, librarians and social workers have had their pay slashed by a staggering 13%.

Unite says “enough is enough”

The pay of local government workers is shrinking against a backdrop of many years of below inflation pay rises and the fastest rise in the cost of living in the last 20 years. Most are now struggling to make ens meet.

Local government workers are not the high earners that the government would have us believe – 70% earn less than £21,000 a year and almost half earn less than £17,802.

Three years of pay cuts is way too long – and plans to abolish the separate bargaining arrangements is yet another blow to this embattled workforce.
This has nothing to do with sharing the pain of deficit reduction, but has everything to do with breaking our public services.

Local government employers have inflicted three years of pay freezes on its loyal workforce.

These are not the highfliers who caused the economic crisis, yet they are being made to pay for it.
Local people need local services delivered by fairly paid local government workers.

Show your support and join the protest. For more information, see the Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign page.Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign logo

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As Austerity Drives Us Back To Recession, The Rich Get Richer – For a Future That Works – Mass Demonstration London 20th October

UPDATE: Free coaches are available from Birmingham for unwaged and low paid people, and there are spaces available on union coaches for ununionised people. Click here for details.

Does austerity work? It would appear that if you are already very rich, it does. The Sunday Times rich list for 2012 it shows that last year, the richest 1,000 people got richer, taking their wealth to a record £414bn. In the past 3 years this tiny group of people have amassed an additional £155bn in wealth – enough to cover the annual deficit with some £30bn to spare. In Birmingham, the Birmingham Post does a local rich list of 50 people, and the 2012 list also showed them getting richer – by £3.37bn in the past year alone..

Meanwhile, austerity has put the economy back into recession, public sector pay has been frozen and overall average pay rose by just 1.4% – a real terms pay cut with inflation running between 3%-5%. Unemployment has increased, and workfare is supplying this pool of labour to companies for free. Ever rising fuel and food prices are hitting hard, not helped by rises in VAT. Meanwhile, the richest 1% – those earning over £150,000 a year – see their tax rate fall.

Pregnant women in Birmingham are getting their meals from foodbanks, and across the country hundreds of thousands depend on charity for food. People with disabilities are having benefits cut and withdrawn, and housing benefit caps are going to force hard working families with low incomes to leave their homes and community – not just in London, as a recent report highlights Birmingham as somewhere that is expected to have problems with homelessness following the implementation of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) that will replace housing benefit. The government is criminalising squatting of empty, unused residential buldings, creating a new group of criminals amongst this vulnerable group.

Our schools are being portioned off as academies to for-profit education firms; our NHS is being handed to Virgin and Serco piece by piece; fraudsters A4e and killers ATOS rake in the profits by failing to help benefit claimants; G4S, responsible for deaths in custody, are in line to take over policing duties. How long before Blackwater are being contracted in to run our armed forces?

We have a cabinet of millionaires, who have no understanding of what living on an average wage means, let alone on minimum wage or benefits. They do not know the price of milk, or when they last had a pasty. They have no connection to anything other than the world of the 1%, the group of people who are doing rather nicely right now. Bankers and lawyers, the sons and daughters of bankers and lawyers. Is it any surprise that they think austerity is working?

We need a future that works, an alternative to austerity and ultimately the demands for growth and consumption of capitalism that is environmentally unsustainable. We need to invest time and money now in creating a zero-carbon future, and housing and living environments suitable for a post-oil world.

It is clear this government is failing to deliver economic recovery, and are only calling for more of the same set of failed policies that have driven Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy to depression and the Euro to the brink of collapse. It is up to us to demand change – and we cannot wait for the next election in 2015 and the hope that Labour policy evolves into a true alternative to cuts.

(c) Geoff Dexter Sherbourne PublicationsThe TUC have called a mass demonstration in London, on Saturday 20th October. Trade Unions are organising coaches from Birmingham and we will be seeking pledges from them to provide spaces for benefit claimants, pensioners & unionised workers and to ensure that coaches are booked with wheelchair spaces. As details of coaches are confirmed, we’ll collect them here.

You can find out more about the demonstration on the TUC Website dedicated to it: AFutureThatWorks.org

Two weeks before that, the Tories are in town for their conference and there is a demonstration on Sunday 7th October.

In March last year over 500,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against cuts, long before the effect had begun to be felt. In November, 2 million went on strike around the UK. By October we could see unemployment topping 3 million and a full year of recession, pay freezes and price rises continuing to squeeze everyone’s household budgets.
The work to make October the biggest month of demonstrations and resistance to austerity begins now. If you are in a trade union, start putting motions to your branch asking them to book coaches. Start asking friends if they are going. Print off an A4 poster for the Birmingham demo and stick it up in your workplace, local shop or window. Read about the alternatives and why austerity won’t work.

Only through mass action, on the streets, in our workplaces, job centres and public services, can we change the course of this government.

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