Monthly Archives: November 2016

Stand Up to Racism Trade Union conference 4 February 2017

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The election of Donald Trump in the US and the growth of anti-migrant and Islamophobic scapegoating in Britain and elsewhere have left millions of people fearful of the growth of racism.

Politicians and the media have ramped up the rhetoric against immigration while Theresa May has put the ending of the free movement of labour at the heart of her Brexit strategy.

Stand Up to Racism is organising a conference for those who believe trade unionists have to fight the attempts to divide working class people. We are stronger together, in the fight against austerity and ruthless employers.

We want to:

  • Defend our EU workmates and make sure their rights are maintained after Brexit.
  • Oppose attempts to blame migrants for falling wages and the slashing of our public services.
  • Arm trade union activists with the arguments they need to defeat racist ideas in the workplaces.
  • Build the biggest possible turn out by trade unionists on the Stand Up To Racism demos in London and Glasgow (backed by the TUC) on 18 March 2017.

Join us 12pm on Saturday 4th February for the Stand Up To Racism Trade Union Conference at (Mander Hall) NUT Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD. Facebook event here

Register for conference here:

SUTR model motion to support conference here:

Organising migrant and other insecure workers after the Brexit vote

tuc_logoDate and time of event:
Tue 6 Dec 2016 – 17:30 to 19:00
Venue and town/city: 
Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS
Costs: FREE
About this event:

This event will explore the new insecurities migrant and local workers are experiencing after the Brexit vote and consider how trade unions should respond to combat this insecurity and associated exploitation.

The event will feature examples of work by trade unions and allies in NGOs and community groups to organise insecure workers.  It will discuss how this work can be built on to foster solidarity between migrant and local workers and combat anti-migrant sentiments.

This event is part of the TUC’s Rethinking Organising series. It will also showcase new resources the TUC has developed to support organising insecure workers that include the ‘Working in the UK’ guide to employment rights available in 21 languages (www.tuc.org.uk/workingintheuk).

Speakers

  • Katia Widlak – Organiser, Unison
  • Felicity Lawrence –  Journalist, The Guardian
  • Klara Skrivankova –  Europe Programme and Advocacy Co-ordinator, Antislavery International 
  • Rosa Crawford –  Policy Officer, Trades Union Congress
  • Additional trade union organisers to be confirmed

Registration required, please register here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/organising-migrant-and-other-insecure-workers-after-the-brexit-vote-tickets-29052155780

Contact for further information:

Further information about the event can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/organising-migrant-and-other-insecure-wor…

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

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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: office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk
Google map and directions

Ideas whose time have come: report on the excellent Lucas Plan conference

On Saturday the 26th of November, Birmingham was host to “The Lucas Plan – An Idea Whose Time has Come?” and I think it was easily one of the best labour movement conferences held this year. It used the 40 year anniversary of the release of the seminal document as the basis for a wide ranging discussion about the work, technology and social and environmental justice. It is a rare achievement to so perfectly unite the labour, peace and ecological movements.

The conference was opened with a short introductory film, The Plan, and then an address from Phil Asquith, one of Lucas Aerospace trades unionists who, in response to the threat of job losses and following an intense discujobsnotbombsssion about progressive alternatives with Tony Benn (then Minister for Industry in the Labour government) helped to create detailed proposals for diversifying the use of high technology away from destructive military purposes toward making products that could actually make the world a better place and be socially useful.

Aside from generating excitement and debate amongst progressive people across world, Phil emphasised that the plan was successful in two very important ways. The first of these is that the plan, in the short term, did enable the workers to stave off compulsory redundancies (obviously the original point). The second, longer term achievement is that many of the radical designs and inventions that the workers’ proposed, Phil cited hybrid engines as a really good example, have since been industrially realised. The conference opened up the possibility that it might make a third contribution: it’s spirit of using the talents and creativity of workers’ exercising control over to produce for social and environmental gain, rather than private profit, could help diversify technology away from the carbon economy and create an economy that could fight the menace of climate change.

Following the opening session, there were three rounds of workshop sessions, with four choices of workshop in each. It is a credit to the quality of the meetings that the Breaking the Frame collective had organised that I and most of the other people I spoke on the day where experiencing genuine dilemmas trying to decide which ones to go to! Myself I went to:

  1. A meeting by a councillor in the Isle of Wight and an organiser with London-based community organising group on how to draw up policy proposals for green jobs and sustainable housing.
  2. An introduction to the seminal book “Architect or Bee?”, written by Lucas Aerospace workers leader Mike Cooley, laying out some of the deeper political ideas behind and raised by the Lucas Plan.
  3. A discussion about workers and robotic and automation, lead off by an agricultural worker and a logistics worker. Getting these two points of view was an extremely good start on this issue, which is a massive controversy within the movement at the moment,lucas-aerospace-systems-equipment-sticker and I was pleased to hear an very sophisticated discussion from the floor around the issue.

I was unable to go to meetings I would have very much like to hear on topics like arms conversion and the real meaning of socially useful production. I do hope the organisers make recordings of these available online.

The meeting heard addresses from two union deputy general secretaries, Tony Kearns of the CWU and Chris Baugh of the PCS, and two MEPs, Molly Scott Cato of the Greens and Julie Ward from Labour, and it was really good to see them strongly endorsing the ideas of the event. It felt like a real step forward for a specifically left environmentalism and, as one person said near the end of the day, the theme of workers’ control and ran through everything. This was a concept our movement used to hold dear and ought to return to. Tony Kearns probably put it best when he emphasised that we have already seen that the institutions of the top of society – businesses, governments and even the TUC – have already failed to take the steps needed to protect the environment, so we have to be like the Lucas workers and think from the bottom up.

Update on Save Barnet Libraries campaign: Protest with Unison workers on 6th of December

Barnet UNISON Librarylast-ditch-libraries-2 workers 46% of whom are facing the sack are quite rightly outraged by the latest financial information on Council spend which was published last week.

Barnet Council Policy & Resources Committee meets at Hendon Town Hall at 7 pm on Thursday 2 December 2016.

 

It is Agenda Item 10 – Annual Procurement Forward Plan which has caused anger and dismay and disbelief.

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s36302/Appendix%201%20-%20Annual%20Procurement%20Forward%20Plan%202017-18.pdf

Scroll down to point 17 in the procurement plan it reveals proposed spend on Libraries construction of £12 million with additional items 18-25 showing an additional £2.125 million for additional associated costs:

Making a total of £14.125 million.

A quick recap on other Barnet Council spend.

Below are the Agency/Consultancy figures for the last four years.

  • £12,526,943
  • £13,775,546
  • £15,538,090
  • £17,907,052

Making a total of £59, 747,631 million

In the first two quarters of this financial year Barnet Council has spent £9.3 million which, if it continues at this rate, will bring the total spend for this year to over £20 million on Consultants/Agency.

Barnet Council claims it is being forced into the Library changes by a need to cut £2,162 million from the Library Service budget by 2019/20.

Members and Barnet UNISON have been asking a very simple question:

“Is it true that in order to save £2,162 million Barnet Council are spending over £6 million (which does not include redundancy costs) on a project to close four public libraries (by handing them to volunteers), on a project that will restrict access for disabled people and children under 15 and are now planning to spend an additional £14,125 million on construction and associated costs (making a grand total of £20.125 million)?”

This latest revelation seriously calls into question as to why staff are being made redundant and why a service with a 97% Customer satisfaction is being brutally dismantled.

As far as Barnet UNISON is aware the £14.125 million construction and additional costs have never been disclosed in any of the reports going to previous Children’s Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committees.

What can we do?

There is still time to stop the destruction of the Barnet Libraries Service. Barnet UNISON will be speaking at General Functions Committee on Tuesday 6 December at 7 pm at Hendon Town Hall. The Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius is on this committee. The committee could refuse to implement the redundancies which would save the Library Service.

 

Join Barnet UNISON on #6December

Defend Democracy in Turkey

In Turkey on 7 June 2015, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP received more than 6 million votes across the political and cultural spectrum and prevented the governing AK Party from gaining a majority. This prevented Erdogan from creating an executive presidential system. Since then Erdogan has unilaterally ended negotiations for a political resolution to the Kurdish question, and the Turkish state have declared war on all progressive opposition forces united under the umbrella of the HDP.

Kurds, Armenians, Arabs, Assyrians, Turks, Alawites, Sunnis, secularists, feminists, workers, students and LGBTI groups all unite under the banner of the HDP. By uniting these diverse constituencies under the banner of democratising Turkey, the HDP became the 3rd largest party in Parliament, with 59 MPs.
More than 16,800 people also voted for the HDP in the UK, which was 60% of the total vote, making the HDP the 1st party for the diaspora in the UK. Unfortunately, this has not been echoed in the statements of UK government, who have kept silent on the Turkish regime’s freehdpattacks on basic human rights.

Following the siege and destruction of a dozen Kurdish towns and cities, the generals responsible launched a coup-attempt on 15 July 2016, which was quickly put down. Erdogan responded with a counter-coup, seizing the opportunity to suppress and punish all opposition. 35 Kurdish Democratic Regions Party, DBP municipalities have been seized using state of emergency decree laws. The mayors of these councils, as well as 2500 DBP members, have been imprisoned. More than 100,000 public sector workers, including 11,000 Kurdish and pro-Kurdish teachers, have been sacked. 170 media outlets critical of the government have been closed down, with at least 130 journalists jailed. Hundreds of academics, lawyers and students have also been at the receiving end of Erdogans rage.

Finally, on 4 November 2016, 10 Peoples’ Democratic Party deputies, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were detained and imprisoned on trumped-up charges of membership of the PKK. In the week since, 441 members of the HDP have also been arrested for protesting the abduction of MPs. There are now no democratic channels left to exercise in Turkey.

Turkey’s turn towards dictatorship is cause for concern not just for the people of Turkey, Kurdistan and the Middle East, but also very dangerous for Europe and the wider world, who have granted Erdogan immunity for all his heinous crimes in exchange for largely sheltering the west from the refugee flow from the Middle East. The Turkish government’s policy of war on the Kurdish people and other progressive and democratic forces is taking Turkey towards a point of no return and possible civil war which of course, will result in the failure of the EU deal regarding refugee. More war, means more refugees and migrants.

• We are calling on all political representatives, trade unions, progressive circles and the British public to support the HDP and demand the release of all HDP MPs and political prisoners in Turkey.

• We are calling on the UK Government to condemn, in the strongest possible terms the Turkish state and Erdogan, and demand that they respect the most basic democratic freedoms, first and foremost by releasing all political prisoners.

The HDP is the best hope for a secular, democratic, gender-equal Turkey where human rights and the rule of law are practiced and defended.

Please join us in solidarity and support on Sunday 11 December 2016, to march from the Turkish Embassy to the Houses of Parliament. We will assemble at 12pm (midday) in front of the Turkish Embassy (43 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8PA).

Will you help end the #RailFareRipOff?

actionforrail1On 1st January 2017, the government will announce a further rise in rail fares for UK train passengers. It’s the Christmas present no one asked for – rather than giving us the gift of proper investment in rail infrastructure and full public ownership, yet again passengers are paying more but getting less.

While fares keep rising, cuts to services and staffing are taking place across the network – with more ticket offices closing, removal of guards from trains, extension of driver only operations and fewer staff at stations to provide help when we need it.

Action for Rail is organising a day of action on Tuesday, 3rd January 2017. We are calling for a publicly owned railway with affordable fares to end this #RailRipOff.

Public ownership of rail could deliver cheaper fares. If the lines up for renewal this parliament were taken back into public ownership, that could save around £1.5bn – which could fund a 10 per cent cut in season tickets and other regulated fares from 2017. A third (£520m) of this £1.5bn saving would come from recouping the money private train companies pay in dividends to their shareholders.

More info here.

tssa-in-the-community

Protest against CETA

15055754_10154389604277034_3089480106056560775_nGabriel Resources – a Canadian mining company, is currently suing the state of Romania over the refusal to grant a mining permit for what would have been the largest open cast gold mine in Europe.

The mine was planned for the region of Rosia Montana, a beautiful town in Transylvania and UNESCO world heritage site. Gabriel Resources are demanding a payment of €4 billion to compensate for their lost future profits. They are using a UK / Romanian investment treaty through their London and Jersey offices to take this case.

The legal action should send alarm bells ringing throughout the EU, and in the UK. Early next year, the European parliament is voting CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada. It will expose European governments to similar cases if those governments decide at any time to prioritise the interests of people, their rights or the environment over and above the future profits of Canadian corporations or 40,000 US companies active in Canada. This will come into force in the UK if voted through regardless of the decision to leave the EU.

Join us at 25 Southampton Buildings on Tuesday 29 November to protest against this toxic trade deal.

Learn more about CETA: http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/ceta

Invitation to launch meeting of NW London Stand Up to Racism

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TUESDAY 22nd November 2016
6.30pm to 8.30pm
PEPPERPOT CLUB, 1a Thorpe Close, Ladbroke Grove, LONDON, W10 5XL

Tackling racism remains one of the key challenges in our society. Refugees are still being left to drown or face squalor in camps such as Calais, while there’s beeen a rise in reported hate crimes in Britain since the referendum. And we’ve seen racism come to the fore elsewhere – from police killings in the US to burkini bans in France.

But there has also been resistance. Refugees have refused to be locked out, while thousands have taken to the streets in the US and Britain to say “Black Lives Matter”, race hate crimes have been met by communities coming together to reject the scapegoating of migrants.

Come to the public rally to discuss how we can build on all this to confront the rise of racism.

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