Category Archives: Statement

Show your solidarity to TUC Bookmarks bookshop after fascist attack

Far right attack TUC Bookmarks bookshop just days after Tommy Robinson release…
Time to build a mass movement against the racist and fascist right
The last few days have proved just how important it is to build a mass movement against racism and fascism in Britain.
The attack on Saturday by far right extremists on the TUC’s bookshop Bookmarks in Central London shows that these people are gaining in confidence in the wake of Tommy Robinson’s release on bail.
Ex leader of the violent and racist English Defence League and former BNP member Robinson has become a rallying point for the whole of racist right, with money flooding in from the US Alt-right to back him.
Across the spectrum Nazi groups, Alt-right figures, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) and UKIP believe they can build a racist movement in Britain just like their friends in the US and Europe have done.
The ‘free Tommy’ campaign was marked by a rising levels of violence as anti-racists and trade unionists have been attacked by his supporters. Stand Up To Racism has launched an important statement opposing the Robinson and the growth of the far right signed by MP’s, trade unionists, campaigners and faith leaders. You can add your name here please share it widely for others to sign.
Now in true Nazi style they’ve turned on a bookshop! The images of book burnings in Germany from the 1930’s show where all this can end up. TUC General secretary Francis O’Grady said; “This is another sinister reminder of the grwoing confidence of the far right”.
Stand Up To Racism needs your help to beat the far right back. Here’s what you can do:
  • Join Saturday’s solidarity event at Bookmarks this Saturday at 2pm, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QE more event details here Rush messages of support to Bookmarks info@bookmarksbookshop.co.uk and Dave@bookmarksbookshop.co.uk or message on twitter @Bookmarks_books or to their facbook page here 
  • Make a donation to stand Up To Racism to help us organise the fightback against the racist and fascist right – donate here
  • Join Stand Up To Racism here

Barnet Labour Group statement on the Resources Committee

Barnet Council has agreed that terminating the two Capita contracts will be fully tested and considered in a Full Business Case looking at bringing Capita-run services in-house. The decision was made at the Policy & Resources Committee on 19 July which discussed options to realign the Council’s relationship with Capita.

A report in the name of the Leader of the Council recommended ‘Option 2’ – preparing a Full Business Case to insource a limited number of Capita-run services such as Highways, Estates, HR and Finance.

Barnet’s Labour councillors proposed that ‘Option 3’  – which would bring the partnership with Capita to an end – should be included in the Full Business Case to ensure that councillors had all the evidence and flexibility to make a final decision. This was conceded by the Conservative councillors.

Full statement.

Option 3 – Tories taken to task over Capita!

Tory councillors, forced to review their outsourcing arrangements with failling privateers Capita due the scale of the disaster, walked away with their tales between their legs after a mauling at town hall Resources Committee. Barnet Alliance for Public Services activists and Labour councillors, who held a lively rally outside before the meeting. By the end, the Conservatives had been forced to carry out a fully analysis of the costs and possibilities of kicking out Capita all together.

In the meeting itself, the Tories were virtually lost for words, as they have reneged on almost everything they had said in the local elections in May. After pledging to maintain low council tax, they are now looking to make the largest tax rises allowed in law. When it was pointed out that they had frozen council taxes for years, and that council officers’ reports had shown that funding was in trouble months ago. they responded by pathetically appealing to the Labour group and residents not to “hark on about the past” and then trying to blame the economic policies of Gorden Brown in the same breath!

The preferred solution for this crisis-ridden administration was to do a partial reversion of services back t public control, which would have left Capita with those elements of services that are mostly profitable to them. By the end of the meeting, they were forced to conceed that no option for in-sourcing should be off the table in order to save our borough. This a massive step forward for our movement!

See a good report on the meeting in the Barnet Times here.

Financial Meltdown in Barnet – Read Mr Reasonable

FULL POST HERE.

Yesterday Barnet published the agenda for the Policy & Resources committee next Monday which you can read here.  I am used to surprises but this one was gobsmacking. I blogged just a couple of weeks ago about the parlous state of Barnet’s finances including the Medium Term Financial Strategy  (MTFS) published in February. Yesterday Barnet published a revised MTFS.

So whereas in February they were forecasting a shortfall of £2.79 million in 2018/19 they are now forecasting a £9.5 million shortfall and in 2019/20 the shortfall jumps from £8.2 million to £19.3 million all in the space of four months. The long term prospects are apocalyptic with a shortfall of £42 million in 2021/22 and by 2023/24 a “high level calculation” showing a shortfall of £62 million. This means the council can no longer exist in its current form.

I simply cannot believe that in February – before the election – no one was aware of just how bad the financial situation was, in which case were the electorate misled?

Tube Strikes Wednesday 6 June and Thursday 14 June

ASLEF attended talks at ACAS with London Underground to try to find a way to resolve the disputes on the Jubilee line and at Acton Town on the District line. Strike action has been called for next Wednesday 6 June and Thursday 14 June.

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: ‘As always, we will go to these talks with an open mind and prepared to seek agreement. Until now, management have refused to meet with us on these issues and it is understandable that our reps and members suspect that their last-minute change of heart means they are simply “going through the motions”; turning up for talks but unwilling to change their hard-line stance.

 

‘The issues at the centre of these separate disputes are the imposition of new duty schedules that break commitments on weekend working on the Jubilee line, and the failure to follow agreed procedures on the District line, are symptomatic of a management style that seems to relish confrontation instead of trying to work with trade unions to solve problems.

 

‘We hope that management will make a genuine effort to solve these disputes with us tomorrow and avoid disruption.’

Barnet Trades Union Council Statement on Local Election Results 2018

Barnet TUC notes with dismay that the Tories have won yet again in our borough, despite running a dysfunctional and discredited administration that has and will cause misery to large numbers of people. Despite broadly positive results in the rest of London and a slight vote increase since 2014, Labour did not succeed in unseating conservative councillors. Our movement now has to face four more years of serious attacks on the conditions of working class people, and we have no time to lose in organising for this.

It is shocking that this viciously rightwing administration has survived. The extreme version of public service cuts and privatisation that the Tories have pursued under a variety of glossy buzz phrases, such as “easycouncil” and “One Barnet”, have resulted in an overblown, under-bid contract with the failing outsourcing giant Capita. The threat that a Carillion-style collapse of Capita could potentially take our essential services down with them was so serious that earlier this year that a question was raised about it in Parliament. There have been myriad other stories, many of them concerning massive mismanagement by the uncaring Tories and their outsourcers, but probably the most horrific was last year’s Oftstead report into children’s services in Barnet. The regulator found that the council was entirely inadequate in all levels, including the protection of vulnerable children. The increased suffering of the vulnerable is the inevitable and greatest cost of the extreme, market-driven ideology of Barnet Conservatives.

With such a dire leadership, the Tories should not have been unbeatable, and we in Barnet TUC believe they were not. In some ways, we have suffered from problems that had been seen in other parts of the country, as Labour did not make many of the big gains that had been hoped for. Writing The Times, Dr Faiza Shaheen of the leftwing thinktank Centre for Labour and Social Studies, had this analysis of the big picture:

…The 2017 general election perhaps gives us better ideas about how to move forward. General elections provide the opportunity for political parties to lay out their policy agenda for the UK. The Labour Party’s manifesto resonated with voters and it showed in the end election result. During local election campaigning I noticed a distinct change in our approach: I had less to offer on the doorstep and ideas were missing from the national conversation. I think it is fair to say that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have been offering a positive vision for the UK in recent weeks.

There were some issues that didn’t get the airtime expected, most notably the scale of cuts to local authority budgets. A recent report by the National Audit Office found that since 2010 local authorities have seen an average reduction in funding of 49.1 per cent. Weirdly these cuts were spoken about continuously during the general election campaign but not during the local elections. It seems that voters failed to make the connection with poorer local service provision, including social care, and Conservative party policy. Yet many voters, including a majority of Conservatives, feel that public spending cuts have gone too far.

Barnet Labour’s local election strategy was not significantly influenced by the 2017 manifesto or campaign. It had six pledges, some of which were very neutral-sounding (“Low council tax”, “Better roads” and “Free parking”) and did not tap into anti-austerity feeling. This was in strong contrast to the sort of themes that had played well in the general election. The unions, led by local government Unison (which organises the largest group of workers affected by the Capita crisis) had brought well-worded proposals on cuts and outsourcing to all three constituency parties. There were also excellent proposals on how to campaign around the issues by respected bloggers like Mr Reasonable. The councillor group rejected all this good advice.

In a bitter absurdity, the Tories realised that Labour’s service campaign was weak and did a completely dishonest, but highly effective, attack on that flank. A leaflet was distributed throughout key wards claiming that Labour would not only put up council tax, but change bin collections from weekly to fortnightly. For impact, they illustrated with this with a picture of an overflowing wheelie bin being raided by a fox. Neither of these claims about Labour policy were at all true, but with only around 48 hours before polling and no existing material on services such as bin collection prepared by Labour, it was very difficult to counter. Further panels on the leaflet utilised misleading statistics to pretend that Barnet is doing well in both affordable housing and education, which was also totally untrue but added up to a very clever attack. This demobilised the Labour vote and allowed the Conservatives to absurdly win on the very issues they should have been weakest on! And so, the Tories won with complete rubbish – in every sense of the word.

A lot of the national debate on Barnet has focused on anti-Semitism and perceptions of it in Labour in particular. The council group completely failed to defend Labour’s positive record on racism and allowed the narrative on anti-Semitism to completely overshadow the media narrative on the election. We believe that anti-Semitism absolutely needs to be fought, but there needs to be a discussion about all the racism that has been manifested recently: and this has to include the victimisation of Black Britons over the Windrush scandal, the alarming rise of Islamophobic stunts like “Punish a Muslim Day” and the recent mobilisation of thousands by the far right “Football Lads Alliance”. There needs to be a renewed anti-racist movement and Barnet TUC will do whatever it takes help make one happen.

However, we will also need a renewed offensive against the Tory council. Our public sector workers and those members of the public who depend upon them will once again have to form a resistance to what will doubtless be an even more hard-line set of policies. There will very likely be industrial action, but in the shorter term and from now on, we also need to wage a strong propaganda campaign. The Tories stole victory by lying about their intentions, and we must expose them every time they put private profit ahead of people’s needs.

A Follow-Up from the Lucas Plan Conference: Trades Unionists Endorse Defence Diversification

The conference to mark 40 years since the Lucas Plan, in which rank and file workers put together a revolutionary programme for repurposing weapons technology for progressive purposes to both save jobs and help society, has had a superb follow up. A an excerpt is here:

So What Happened to Our Conference Motion 16 The “Lucas Plan”, Arms Conversion and
Socially Useful Production? 1st TUCJCC renamed it Defence, Jobs and Diversification then sent it to TUC Congress 2nd It was accepted onto agenda and heard on Tuesday 12th September PM.

The motion is now the property of the General Council and has been referred to the TUC Economic and Social Department for Action. Their first action will be to consult with those Unions directly affected-we’ll keep you updated with any progression.

In the Meantime?
TUCJCC wanted you to know what had happened with your motion, particularly with the announcement of further job losses in BAE and the potential for further announcements of job losses from supply industries across the UK. They would specifically like you too

  1. Those Trades Union councils covering the area of the BAE job losses already announced to contact the Unions involved and ask how they (and we) could help (if not already involved).
  2. The TUCJCC regional representatives will raise within their own Regional Executives the wider issue of potential job loss within the wider supply chain industries.
  3. Discuss the motion within your own Trades Union Councils and consider how your
    affiliate could encourage both the TUC and Labour Party to act on it.

 

The for a link to the full motion and repot: So What Happened to Our Conference Motion 16-final copy (002)

Closure of Job Centres in the London Borough of Barnet

Closure of Job Centres in the London Borough of Barnet

Barnet UNISObarnet-unison-logo-e1462368170626N are concerned about the proposed closure of two of the four Job Centres in the Borough.  The DWP appears to have not fully considered the impact this would have on those people working in and using Job Centres, and the wider community including our members working to provide support for those seeking work.

Instead of closing Job Centres we call on the DWP to consider the benefits and opportunities of working in partnership with local Government.  The proposal shows a failure to learn from the success of existing DWP and Local Government partnerships such as the Boost project at Burnt Oak

Barnet’s population, already the size of many UK cities, will rise from 373, 000 to over 400,000 within the next decade. To reduce Job Centre services by 50% in the face of this growth illustrates a lack of strategic planning by the DWP

Reducing the number of Job Centres will place greater strains and stresses on people who already are in the difficult and worrying situation of having to find work as travel costs and waiting times will increase.

The closure of half of the Borough’s Job Centres will put further pressure on our members working in council services such as libraries and social care who are providing support to people who are out of work; our members are already suffering from additional pressures from cuts to jobs and resources.

Barnet UNISON call for a more imaginative and socially responsible approach to providing Job Centre Services in our Borough. This to be  arrived at after a  full and real consultation with Job Centre workers as represented by the PCS, service users, the Council and other concerned organisations.

Barnet Unison – Local Government branch.

Hate Crime – Why I reported it to the Police

1ji0bqReproduced from John Burgess’ blog.

Yesterday, I registered a hate crime directed at me.

I registered the hate crime because on Thursday 9 February, 2017 I received an unsolicited email from someone I do not know and who claimed to be supporting me.

It is a sickening email. I have shared it with some close friends.

Because of the serious nature of the allegations I have responded back to the sender asking for their contact details so that I can speak with them. In my opinion if the allegations were true there would be serious ramifications for the trade union movement.

Any reasonable person after receiving such a shocking email and having been unable to elicit a response from the sender could only come to one conclusion; that the sender was attempting to bully and intimidate me into silence.

Firstly, I want to reassure my friends that I am ok. If I had received this email a year ago I am not sure how I would have responded and it could have been very serious.

But I have been back at work for over five months. Life is never straightforward in Barnet, so I am having to operate with all the energy I have to keep my focus which is always to my members and the community we serve.

I sought the opinions of some close friends and the consensus was that the purpose of the email was to try and destabilise me, silence me and undermine my mental health so that I do not trust my comrades.

However, the sender and or the others behind this attack fail to recognise that I belong to a tight community and I also have friends outside of Barnet. I am also an organiser. It is in my blood and when someone picks on someone I can’t look away. I am not a spectator, I have to offer my help and dealing with bullies has for me been a fight that never goes away, no matter what it means to me personally.

Well, I thought about what I should do.

“Ignore it”, was a common response.

But, what about the others the sender also bullies, how can I just let this go?

I quickly decided I can’t and so I decided the first step was to register it as a hate crime with the police.

I have provided the police with the email and the email address.

I have tried to find the identity by looking up the IP address which led me to an address in California, it is an @icloud.com email address.

However, if you know someone who knows how to trace an email please let me know.

Here is an extract from the email:

“Attended the left mtg last night – debate about gen sec election where your so called comrades tore you apart

Comments like he’s a fucking liability,he s a total nut job and he’s lost the fucking plot with no one challenging them.they laughed at all your ranting a and postings ..and spoke about men in white coats appalling stuff

They said you were the worst candidate ever fielded and you are a spineless chicken especially writing grovelling apologies all the time.using words like nut case,loony etc

I have never heard such nasty language about a comrade esp their mental state.”

I don’t believe such a meeting took place. As I said earlier this was an attempt to try and bully someone who is known to have had a serious mental health breakdown.

Now it is true that I made a decision to go public about my own battle with my mental health, which I didn’t take lightly but I felt that it was one thing to tell others to share their experiences and another to keep mine to myself. It was scary decision, but I have had nothing but positive feedback from hundreds of people, some I know, our members and others who have just read some of my blog posts about my mental health issues.

This is not the first time I have been subject to threats and probably won’t be my last. I also had threatening emails and smears whilst I stood as a candidate in the UNISON General Secretary elections.

I have been the target of two hate crimes which resulted in damage to my car, one of the attacks took place less than 5 metres from my front door.

Back then I took a decision to go public, to say I would not be intimidated or bullied into silence.

Both the local press, my employer and other trade unionists rallied round by signing a message of solidarity. John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn along with a number of high profile trade union leaders added their names see link here:

Defend our UNISON rep – Letter to Editor

http://bit.ly/2kHwPTQ

Local press covered it here:

‘We won’t let the bullies intimidate us’ – union rep in hate attack

http://bit.ly/2lDLxJu

 “Union condemns hate crime as rep’s car is vandalised”

http://bit.ly/2l8wXwl

 “F*cking union faggot” – UNISON activist targeted in hate crime

http://bit.ly/2kzoeQQ

My message to the sender.

I will not be silenced I will not be bullied, I will not allow you to push me into the shadows.

I will not be backing down from standing up for what I believe in.

Whatever you thought you would achieve by sending that email has back-fired.

This matter is not at an end, it is only just beginning.

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