Tag Archives: Unison

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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Filed under Events, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, strike

NHS 63rd Birthday Celebrations


Tuesday 5th July is the 63rd Birthday of the NHS.  With the ConDems attacking it from two sides, with cuts in the form of efficiency savings and the NHS Reform bill currently going through parliament which will introduce increasing competition into the NHS, remove much of the collective purchasing power that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) provide and open the NHS up to private companies, making a huge step towards privatisation.

NHS Demonstration at QE Hospital

The efficiency savings will mean that Heart of England trust (which runs Heartlands Hospital) will be shedding 20% of it’s staff, whilst University Hospital Birmingham trust will be cutting thousands of admissions and tens of thousands of outpatient appointments. 700 hospital beds are threatened across Birmingham and Solihull and in Dudley, hospitals face a £12m cut in their budgets.
When John Lister from Health Emergency spoke at our public meeting in May, he told us that these efficiency savings – 5% a year for 4 years – had never been done anywhere in the world, and could not be done in the NHS, which is already very efficient in terms of value for money.

NHS Workers march with banner

Tuesday (5th July) sees the 63rd Birthday of the NHS and False Economy have called for people to hold celebrations. In Birmingham, UNISON will be handing out birthday cake and getting people to sign a birthday card petition from 12noon – 4pm on Colmore Row. In dudley, they will be at Russell Hall Hospital from 10am-2pm.

Following that (and nothing to do with the birthday celebrations) there will be a DPAC lobby of the council, starting at 5pm so if you can come to the stall, hang around for that as well.

If you want to get involved with a local campaign to save our NHS, have a look at Save Our NHS West Midlands

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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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Filed under Events, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, strike

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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UNISON Connexions workers to join J30 Strikes

Connexions workers in Birmingham will join council workers, teachers and civil servants on Thursday for a day of mass strikes.  They have already held half-day strikes over the past few months over office closures and redundancies to a service which provides careers advice to young people, at a time when youth unemployment is rising (it’s at around 20% nationally, and probably higher than that locally) and educational opportunities are being restricted by the scrapping of EMA and the raising of university tuition fees.
The ConDems promised to improve Careers Advice for young people, now we know that from April 2012 they intend to end funding for Careers Guidance and Connexions for young people.  National funding for Careers Advice has been available for over 40 years.  Without any debate or consultation this service is now in grave danger of being removed from our young people.
Careers advice and support should be available face to face for ALL our young people regardless of their ability level, especially at a time in the economic cycle where jobs are hard to find, and a time when politicians are withdrawing support for education and training.

Show your support for Connexions Birmingham.  Our next generation will be left with:

  • No careers advice
  • No EMA
  • No benefit advice
  • Outrageous tuition fees
  • Cuts in FE courses
  • Cuts in University Courses

This government is potentially abolishing the careers service for young people.

Join the Facebook group Connexions services need to unite to fight

Contact your MP and local Councillors; tell Birmingham City Council and the government how important Connexions Birmingham is to YOU. To find out how visit www.writetothem.com

Plan for the day:

7am -10am: Pickets and protest outside all Connexions Centres or bases for Connexions members- Honeywell House, Kings Heath, Broad Street, Northfield and Broad Street.

10-10.30: Everyone heads to the Broad Street office. Transport will be organised by stewards as appropriate. Members are encouraged to share cars wherever possible.

10.45: Connexions UNISON Picket and Demonstration for all members outside Broad Street with Informal speakers

11.15: walk from from Broad Street to Victoria Square, leafleting and petition along the way

12.00: UNISON, NUT, ATL, UCU Mass Rally Victoria Square

I shall be adding these onto our map of activities on J30 shortly.  This is the best place to keep up to date with exactly what is happening (although it will not be a complete list by any means.)

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UNISON J30 news

UNISON’s latest newsletter contains details of ten rallies they will be holding around Birmingham between 10am and 11am on 30th June.  These have been added to our map of events for the day.  These demos will then go to the city centre for the strike rally at 12noon

Heather Wakefield, UNISON National Secretary – Local Government,  in a message to council workers said:

“Birmingham City Council’s attacks on jobs, services, pay and conditions show that the City Council has little respect for its employees, its tenants or its residents.

UNISON must lead the way in saying ‘enough is enough’. Without you, the council could not ensure the education, safety or wellbeing of the people of Birmingham and you deserve better. We know that what Birmingham does today, others will do tomorrow. Please give your full support to the industrial action.

We need to show the council that it cannot deliver without its workforce and that you deserve better treatment.
With very best wishes and good luck, Heather”

You can download and view the full newsletter here (PDF)

We would like to re-iterate Heather’s words, that without its workers, the council could not deliver the services it provides to the people of this city.  This is why everyone in Birmingham should support the council workers going on strike.  The new contract slashes pay and changes conditions.

By removing shift allowances (extra pay for working unsociable hours, weekends, evenings and night shifts) many workers are finding their pay will drop by thousands of pounds.  A Home Care Assistant for instance, may be on around £14,000 at the moment but will see their pay drop by as much as £2,200.  This might be a person who goes to people’s homes to ensure their well being, and helps to look after people who need it – whether this is elderly people, someone with a disability or someone recovering from a serious injury/accident.  They often work evenings and weekends, since obviously people need help at all times, and their work enables the people they help to remain living in their own home and achieve a degree of independence that would not be possible if they were living in a home or sheltered accommodation.

The changes to conditions are equally harsh – the new contract will mean that the council can force any worker to change to a different job (on the same pay scale), in any location around the city, working any hours.  So someone who works monday to friday, 9-5, within walking distance from their family home, could be forced to change to a totally different job, working evenings and weekends on the other side of the city.  Their choice will be to take the job or quit.

For many people this means they could be doing something which is utterly unlike the job they originally signed up for.  It may well be unsuitable for them – they may have a family or other commitments that mean that they are not able to work evenings or weekends.

Such changes in conditions and of course the cut in pay can only serve to reduce the quality of services being provided, as people will be less keen to work for the council (especially doing jobs with unsociable hours – why would anyone work nights if it didn’t pay any better?)

So we need to support the council workers’ strike, as a defense of our services and part of the ongoing struggle against cuts and for the alternative.  Yesterday I posted something you can do each day in the run up to Thursday’s strike day.

 

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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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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Events, strike

Council Workers vote YES to strikes

UNISON members working for Birmingham City Council have voted to take strike action over changes to pay and conditions which if implemented could see workers losing as much as £6,000 per year.

75% of workers voted to strike, on a turnout of 30%.  This is a higher turnout than the last strike ballot by unison, and with the 3/4 majority vote is a solid mandate for action.  Unison have not yet announced what actions will take place.

For further background on the reasons for the ballot, see this post.

Previously, we have heard that they were planning strikes on the 29th and 30th.  Assuming they do call strikes on the 30th, they will join Teachers and Civil Servants for a huge regional strike rally, assembling at 12 noon in Victoria Square in Birmingham.

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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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Stirchley & Cotteridge Public meeting – 15th June

Why the cuts aren’t necessary – How we can defend services

Public meeting called by Stirchley + Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Speakers:

James Anthony (staff nurse + chair of QE hospital UNISON branch where 17% budget cuts are proposed)
Linda Burnip (Disabled People Against Cuts)

Weds 15th June 7.30pm
Stirchley Community Church, Pershore Road (opposite the old baths on Bournville Lane)

stirchleyanticuts@gmail.com  phone 07828 013091

other topics discussed will be local day centre, neighbourhood offices, fire service cuts, social care cuts, cuts at Lindsworth School (local special needs school), Merrishaw + Rea Meadow day nurseries under threat

There are also public meetings planned in June and July by other local groups around Birmingham, including Stockland Green and Handsworth, and we will post information about those when we have it.

 

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