Monthly Archives: May 2016

UCU Picket Line Information

As you may know Comrades from the University and College Union (UCU) are to hold two days of strike action on Wednesday 25th May and Thursday 26th May 2016.

This is in response to a 1% pay offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) being rejected by UCU members in Higher Education.

Picket lines will run Weds 25th and Thursday 26th on the Hendon campus From 8am till 12 noon.

Billy Bragg – Never Cross A Picket Line (With Images Of The UK …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojPTz4VAOMA

State of the Economy Conference Report Back

State_of_the_economy

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

Mondragon

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.

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell“I want to send a message of solidarity and support to Barnet UNISON members, and the many community campaigns who have been fighting Barnet Council as it carries out its relentless ideological war against public services,the disabled and their own staff. I cant be with you with you on your protest on Tuesday 24 May, keep fighting your all are an inspiration” John McDonnell MP Shadow Chancellor

Solidarity Protest Tuesday the 24th of May 6.00pm Hendon Town Hall

Solidarity Protest 24th May 6.00pm Hendon Town Hall

Do we have a reason?

Election Chaos

Solidarity Protest 24th May 6.00pm Hendon Town Hall

#BarnetGate

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Convoy to Calais

Barnet TUC is proudly suppoting this project for solidarity with refugees:

Convoy_Update

Hundreds more refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean, the British government are refusing to even take parentless children from Calais, and Syrian refugees are being forced back into the jaws of the war they have fled.

The Convoy to Calais on 18 June will be a huge demonstration of solidarity with refugees from the people of this country. The major unions are in. The biggest social movements are in. The Muslim community is in. Are you?

This is practical aid but it is also a huge moving protest at the way governments across the continent are failing refugees. This is the time to come together and say: stop the scapegoating, solidarity with the refugees.

Organised by People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Stop the War Coalition, Stand up to Racism, Unite the Union, Communications Workers Union, TSSA, War on Want, Momentum & Muslim Association of Britain

Here’s what you can do:

  • Come on the Convoy. We need every last lorry, van, bus, car, motorbike or scooter that can come to be with us. Let us know you’re coming by registering, and do make a donation to help with the costs. Even if you have to peel off at Dover and cant make it all the way. (Initial itinary below)
  • Collect: we need material, and money. Collect in your workplace, union, community, place of worship or just among your friends. Every bit counts. Download the full aproved donation list HERE.
  • Even if you haven’t collected anything do come on the Convoy. We need hands to unload and a massive show of solidarity.

TSSA Conference 2016

tssa

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be delegated to this year’s conference of my union, the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association. The event was thoroughly upbeat as a result of a year in which the union has overcome some very serious challenges in adapting to the changing transport industry and has also played a very important role in the wider labour movement. Those of us from London could feel a particular satisfaction that the mayoral candidate we had been backing from the very start, Sadiq Khan, had just won a historic victory as we due to begin. Representation from all branches was the strongest it had been for years, with excellent delegations from TSSA’s recently and thoroughly revitalised sections in Scotland and Ireland.

Strong motions were passed on key campaigning strategies. The union resolved to combat the appalling misrepresentation of the movement in the media by supporting the Morning Star newspaper, to play a bigger role in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and get involved in campaigns for social housing, green jobs and saving steel manufacturing in Britain. There was also a thorough debate on the forthcoming EU referendum: after speeches from both sides, conference adopted a “Remain” position with a set of demands for reform of the EU, as well as a motion for total opposition to the so-called “Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership” (TTIP).

International solidarity was also an important theme. We had a short film and presentation about the important work of Justice for Colombia, who fight for the rights of trade unionists who face some of the worst violence and repression against our movement in the world. This was followed by a very moving report from TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes and president Mick Carney about their participation in a trade union delegation to Palestine, about which they have both written about how urgently there needs to be action to support the rights of people in this occupied country. The union also put a statement of support for imprisoned Egyptian workers’ rights lawyer, Haitham Mohamedain.

In terms of guest speakers, we literally could not have asked for better. Shadow chancellor, John McDonell, spoke at fringe meeting before conference began. Leader of our sister transport union the RMT, Mick Cash, came and adressed us about the urgent need to work together to face new challenges such as technological and organisational change in our industry. But the universally acclaimed high point came at dinner on Sunday when we had keynote speeches from Shadow Rail Minister, Andy McDonald, and of course the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, a long-standing friend of the entire trade union movement.

UCU confirms two-day strike at UK universities over pay

Statement from the UCU

 

ucu-1140-400

UCU confirms two-day strike at UK universities over pay

9 May 2016

UCU has confirmed plans for a two-day national strike at UK universities as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

UCU members in higher education will walk out on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May. Staff will also begin working to contract from 25 May, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to target further strike action in June and July, and are considering additional action in August to coincide with the release of A-level results. The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work, to begin in the autumn if an acceptable offer has still not been made.

The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of 1.1% from the employer body, the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which the union has described as ‘an insult’. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and that the latest offer does little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% suffered by higher education staff since 2009.

The union also countered UCEA’s claim that their offer would amount to a 3% average salary increase once pay progression is included, saying that 54% of union members are already at the top of their pay grade and will not be eligible for an annual increment.

The squeeze on staff salaries comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders have increased, on average, by 3%, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors standing at over £270,000.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: ‘Members in higher education have sent a clear message to employers that, after six years of real-terms pay cuts amounting to 14.5%, they will not tolerate a continued squeeze on their income. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but staff feel that they have been left with no alternative.

‘A 1.1% offer is an insult to the hard work and dedication of higher education staff, particularly in light of the 3% average pay rise enjoyed by vice-chancellors this year. The ball is now in UCEA’s court, but the employers need to come back to the table with a much improved offer if they wish to avoid significant disruption to students in the coming months.’

UCU

 

Capita have cancelled Freedom Passes for adults with disabilities

Barnet Councils private contractors Capita have cancelled Freedom Passes for adults with mental health issues and other disabilities like autism without giving any notice. 
 
This has meant that many people have found out for the first time that their Pass has been cancelled while trying to use public transport. Others have had their Pass cancelled as a result of a reassessment, despite there being no change in their condition.
 
This is despicable and unacceptable.
 
And possibly illegal.
 
And
For further information on how Capita, on behalf of Barnet Council, are making the lives of disabled residents intolerable.
Barnet Labour have started a petition for immediate reinstatement of the disabled Freedom pass to these residents.
 
I urge you to please sign this petition and share throughout your networks.
We must stand against this treatment of disabled residents.