Category Archives: Anti-austerity

Show Culture Some Love

16797816_1093584557419993_4489735210433799335_oThe third conference of the “Show Culture Some Love“ campaign – organised in conjunction with SERTUC and affiliated unions – is taking place on 25 March 2017 from 1.00-5.30pm in TUC Congress House. Tim Newton’s film of the first conference can be viewed here:

The conference focusses on the theme of “The Future of Arts & Culture” and will be opened by Megan Dobney, (Southern & Eastern TUC Regional Secretary). The main session will be chaired by Clara Paillard (President, PCS Culture Sector) – and will feature a number of leading speakers. Further announcements will be made as and when speakers are confirmed.

The main session will be followed by four workshops which will explore equality issues:
• Race, Racism, Art & Culture: (Chair: Zita Holbourne, “Black Activists Rising Against Cuts”)
• Disability, Culture & Art: (Chair: Mark Leopard, TUC Disabled Workers Committee)
• LGBT, Art & Culture: (Chair: Theresa Easton, Artists Union England)
• Gender, Art & Culture: (Chair: Fiona Whitelaw, Equity).

A second series of workshops on a number of issues relevant to the sector will then take place:
• Arts & Campaigning: (Chair: Nicola Hawkins, SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee)
• The Arts & “Brexit”: (Chair: Tracy Edwards, PCS Culture Sector)
• Developing and taking forward the Show Culture Some Love programme: (Chair: Tom Taylor, SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee)
• National Libraries and Museums Campaign: (Chair: Candy Udwin, PCS or Helen Davies, Barnet UNISON)

Each workshop is being asked to identify two priority action points and to appoint someone to report back to the final session – which will be chaired by Tom Taylor (Secretary, SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee).

Registration will take place between 12 noon to 1.00pm – with free sandwiches and refreshments being provided. Advance booking is essential – and people can book their place via email at:

I Daniel Blake screening

16358539_10154765740641206_221928706_nBarnet UNISON is proud to be able to screen ‘I Daniel Blake’ in our local community cinema the Phoenix in East Finchley on Tuesday 28 February.

We are absolutely delighted that our long-time supporter Ken Loach has agreed to join a Q & A with DPAC’s Paula Peters, who will be interviewed by Aditya Chakraborrty senior economics commentator for the Guardian.

See flyer and poster for details.Flyer







Useful links

Phoenix Cinema – East Finchley

Accessibility at Phoenix

I, Daniel Blake trailers

I, Daniel Blake – Official Trailer I HD I Sundance Selects

Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’

barnet_idanielblake_28Feb2017_A5_2ppAditya Chakrabortty

Download our poster here


People’s Question Time – Brexit: What are our Demands?


7pm, Thursday 19 January, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA.

This has been a year full of surprises; the Political landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate. Brexit has been hugely divisive and has created a dynamic and unpredictable situation.

Our new (un-elected) Prime Minster and her cabinet clearly have no real plan. One thing is for sure, if the last 6 years are anything to go by, if the Tories are left to handle Brexit negotiations on their own we’ll see a deal that suits the bankers, the bosses and the corporations. What should we be demanding from the government that means Brexit is negotiated in the interests of the people? However you voted in the EU referendum, we need to put pressure on the Tories to ensure they don’t use Brexit as a way of increasing attacks on the majority, continuing austerity, whipping up racist divisions in our community and scapegoating immigrants.

Book here.

Panel includes:
Emily Thornberry MP – Shadow Foreign Secretary, Labour Party
Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party
Kevin Courtney – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Lindsey German – People’s Assembly
Steve Turner – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE
(more tbc)

Do you have a question for our panel? Submit one when registering for a chance to put it to the event.

Check out the Facebook Event and invite your friends!

Any questions about the event or for the People’s Question Time, please contact:
Google map and directions

“Fighting tooth and nail” – a Barnet UNISON Film

John Burgess writes:

Whilst we have tried hard to support and represent our members the last 9 years have been painful, fun, tiring but invigorating but most of all it has been a privilege to have belonged to Barnet UNISON branch.

Austerity introduced mass outsourcing to our members and residents. I have never been prouder than when I have been at committee meetings with hundreds of residents or with residents with hundreds of questions.

Our members have had the courage to give it a go. To get up off our knees and at least stand up for what is right.

Sometimes we have lost and sometimes we have won, that is the way it is in Barnet UNISON.

But we can always look back and say that we have not gone missing.

We don’t leave anyone behind, even when we lost the big outsourcing to Capita and hundreds of our members were later made redundant as their jobs were scattered to the four winds. We stayed and supported, represented our members and we won some compensation for some of those who lost their jobs.

We can always say we didn’t avoid difficult decisions and we don’t run from a fight, we organise and we lead but always it must be the members who decide when and for how long we fight.

Outsourcing and job cuts has had a detrimental impact on worker and I have observed the workplace has become toxic environment. I point to the consultant’s catch phrase “More for less” as one of the most insidious and unhelpful jargon to emerge over the last decade.

“More for less” has in my opinion has contributed directly to “unsustainable and unsafe” work places; we are only just beginning to see the impact on workers mental health and wellbeing.

Over the past decade we have seen a high burn out of UNISON reps simply because the challenges and pressures that mass outsourcing brings are too much.

I have always believed in taking responsibility where you can and for me that has been in the London Borough of Barnet.

I have worked with so many wonderful and creative people both inside and outside UNISON. I have gained so much more from being in their company and most importantly listening and learning to what they have said or done.

It is in recognition of this experience and in an attempt to reflect on what has happened and think about my future and the future of the branch I have put together a film montage of the last decade in the life of Barnet UNISON. The film opens with Fremantle Care workers and campaign that shocked me and a campaign that still troubles me deeply nearly 9 years after it began. Their fight and the draconian cuts were later to be followed by the heroic Care UK 90 day strikers and our very own Your Choice Barnet care workers campaign.

Anyway enough from me.

The short film is just under 20 minutes long so make sure you have a nice drink, comfy seat you might have a few surprises from a few guest appearances.


CETA Protest Event near Royal Free Hospital Saturday, 15th october 11am

Event at Southend Green, Hampstead, to protest against CETA & TTIP organised by Global Justice Now London Action Network and #noTTIP, with the support of War on Want.
This event is on Saturday, October 15th from 11am until 3pm at Southend Green NW3 2QE, very near to the Royal Free Hospital , Hampstead.
This protest event is happening in conjunction with a number of other demonstrations against CETA taking place on the same day in Paris , Madrid , Barcelona , Sevilla, and elsewhere across Europe .
A list of all the actions happening can be found at:

CETA is a trade deal being negotiated between the EU and Canada which poses a major threat to our democracy, public services and the environment. Like TTIP, CETA could have wide-ranging effects on our lives. If ratified, CETA would:
  • Allow corporations to sue governments in secret offshore courts for making laws to protect their citizens
  • Hand multinationals a greater role in making new regulation and thereby risk sparking a race to the bottom in standards for important areas like food safety and environmental regulation
  • Lock in privatisation of services. CETA includes a ‘rachet’ clause which only allows governments to move in the direction of privatisation
  • Remove protection for key UK products like Cornish pasties or Cumberland sausages
  • Enable companies involved in shale gas extractiont sue the UK government. This could well be the case  if any local authorities were to turn down planning applications for fracking., as has already happened in the iSDS case of Lone Pine vs. Quebec  .
We have chosen to demonstrate near the Royal Free Hospital as we are very worried about the creeping tendency to privatise the NHS. In some parts of the country hospitals are already run by Virgin. CETA will mean that it is not only easier for private companies to bid for NHS services but it will be impossible for governments to stop private companies winning these contracts without suffering legal and financial consequences.
This is because of one of the most insidious parts of CETA called the ICS (investment court system) –
formerly known as the ISDS – a system of parallel justice, where international corporations will be able to sue Governments for any laws they make that effect corporations ability to make profits. These courts are held in secret and there is no right of appeal. CETA will also mean that governments have to allow private corporations to bid on services like the NHS and are therefore not allowed to protect important public services from being taken over by private companies.
If privatised parts of the NHS were to be bought back into public ownership, then the UK Government could be sued under the ICS system for billions of pounds. The same applies for railways, the education system, and any other public services.
We are demonstrating along with people all over Europe . The reason for this wave of demonstrations is that on October 18th the European Commission is meeting in Luxemburg to decide whether to approve CETA or not. If this is approved, then CETA will be signed at the EU-Canada Summit on October 27th
However, there has been no public debate either in the House of Commons or in the UK media on CETA. This is despite the fact that over 3 million Europeans voted against TTIP and CETA in the European Citizens Initiative including of which 500.000 were from the UK .
On September 17th this year the fact that 340,000 in Germany and Austria were on the streets against CETA and TTIP, there was hardly any mention of this in the British media.
In addition there was a public consultation by the European Commission on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which was opposed by 97% of respondents.
We feel that this very toxic trade deal is being negotiated in secret without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny. If the public knew the risks that CETA posed to the NHS, democracy and our country they to would be very worried.

Tories Out – Austerity Has Failed


At Teresa May’s first Tory Party Conference as Prime Minister the People’s Assembly with the support of the TUC will be holding a mass demonstration to say we demand an alternative to ‘Austerity Britain’.

We will demand investment in public services, in infrastructure, and in decent jobs for all. An end to scapegoating of migrants which divides our communities and whips up racism. Join us and help make sure the demonstration is as big as possible. Transport is being arranged for Barnet:

Dep: 8:50 London Euston so be at station for 8:15a.m

Dep: 16:50 Birmingham New Street to arrive London Euston 18:18

A small number have been pre-bought: please get email if you would like to buy one.


Please circulate info,

Protect Jobs, Defend Living Standards – Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work for 2016/7


The theme for the Trades Union Councils Programme of Work for 2016 to 2017 is ‘Protect Jobs, Defend Living Standards’. It sets out a positive vision of trade unions as we know them to be: a democratic force for fairness in the modern workplace. It highlights the role that trades union councils play in developing and promoting trades unions and in campaigning on the core values of the TUC and the union movement.

The key areas of campaigning for the year are:

  1. protecting workers’ rights to strike, promoting trade unionism and building union organisation;
  2. setting out the case for a high investment, high productivity economy with great jobs and skills at its heart;
  3. making devolution and decentralisation work for people;
  4. reaching out to young workers;
  5. support and campaigning for the Welfare Charter
  6. fighting racism and fascism

This programme of work has developed by the TUCJCC to ensure that trades union councils can identify their part in TUC campaigns and help implement the resolutions passed at the 2016 trades union councils conference.

Read the programme in full.

State of the Economy Conference Report Back


This Saturday, the Labour held a ground-breaking conference on a vision of the future for the left. John McDonnell kicked off events by introducing a speech by the internationally renowned economist Ha-Joon Chang, who layed out a powerful case for the re-industrialisation of Britain. I would be unable to do justice to his full presentation and those of the many other good speakers, hopefully they will be made available on-line soon.

What I will do is focus on the absolutely superb content of the first breakout workshop I attended. In his opening remarks, McDonnell said that part of the point of the event was that Labour isn’t just a party of protest, it is a party that is looking to make real and lasting change. He said he wants Labour to lead an entrepreneurial state, with the setting up of a National Investment Bank and a co-operative sector that will be doubled in size. The workshop “Alternative Models of Ownership” provided some vision of how these aspirations could, and in some cases do, work in practice.

The session had three speakers, the first of whom was Professor Andrew Cumbers of Glasgow University, a writer on the failure of neoliberal policies worldwide and the emergence of new forms of enterprises and services that ave been formed in opposition to them. He said Latin America had led the way, as a result of the struggle against privatised water and sanitation, in which novel “hybrid” water providers have been established, which combine state and co-operative ownership. It is a form de-centralised public sector, that does not have to depend on the massive public sector model left wing governments relied on in the 20th Century. This hybrid model has more recently spread to France and even some American cities. It also how green electricity is being implemented in parts of Europe, including much of Denmark and even the English city of Nottingham. Cumbers said that we, as a movement, need to grapple with widely-held criticisms of the old models of centralised public ownership, and point to working alternatives that aren’t just the market.

The second speaker was easily one of the most qualified people in England to discuss such matters. Councillor Matthew Brown was able to talk about what he and his colleagues in Labour-run Preston Council have done to significantly improve the local economy. Preston council has made radical changes by looking around the world at progressive municipalities and learning from them. One of the key examples for all this has been the Spanish Basque Country’s venerable co-operative Mondragon Corporation. Mondragon’s long-standing commitment to what it calls community wealth building has contributed to the regions living standards being around 30% better than the national average. This has led the council to become interested in two key concepts:

  • Anchor Institutions – the services, groups and business that hold the local economy together
  • Sticky Capital – the concept of getting wealth made in the area to get re-invested and spent in the area


Based on this thinking, the council has achieved the following:

  • Vastly expanded the living wage at local businessesGuild
  • Promoted co-operatives to fill gaps in the local economy
  • Expanded the membership of credit unions and introduced a local “guild money” scheme to encourage people to spend local
  • Begun a campaign to get people to “move their money local”, into smaller regional building societies which are more secure than the big banks

Set up a Social Forum to find out what people in Preston want to see done for the economy
The Preston Model is currently one Labour’s most exciting successes and something we should really be talking about everywhere.

The final speaker in the session was Jenny Rouse, who works for left wing think tank the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. She followed on from Councillor Brown’s presentation by talking about how the approaches Preston have used can and are be applied in other cities. She also revisited some of the themes that Andrew Cumbers had discussed, saying that all the traditional sectors of the economy have there own drawbacks (the private sector chases profit, the public sector is bureaucratic and the voluntary sector is governed by its funding) and that all three need to be moderated with a people-focused strategy.

This was only one of ten workshops throughout the day, and the content of the others will hopefully be available elsewhere. The second one I attended was on Technology and the Future of Work, which contained some very interesting discussion about automation, decentralisation and the rise of the self-employed as a large proportion of the working class, which was also very good. The conference ended on a very high note with a broad panel of speakers and a closing speech from Jeremy Corbyn. It has been a huge success and will, hopefully, be only the first of many such events as we work towards a Labour government.

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