Monthly Archives: May 2018

WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HERE

Bringing together all those facing a ‘hostile environment’ from the Home Office

7pm, Thursday 31 May
Venue: UNITE the Union, 33-37 Moreland St., EC1V 8BB

Speakers include:

  • Windrush generation families from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries
  • People seeking asylum from wars, dictatorships, ecological devastation and hunger
  • EU nationals threatened by Brexit
  • Ian Macdonald QC, leading barrister in immigration and human rights law

The Windrush scandal has finally exposed to the public the truth about what deportation means for people’s lives, and the public is outraged.

Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean and other countries, invited by the government to help rebuild war-torn Britain, have been separated from loved ones, lost jobs, homes, refused healthcare, pensions and rights after living in the UK most or all of their lives. An estimated 50,000 people have
been affected but it is yet to come out how many were deported, suffered permanent harm, or even died.

The media, and even right-wing MPs, had to reflect public outrage forcing the then Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign. The government promised to acknowledge the citizenship of and pay compensation to the Windrush generations and their descendants, partly because Commonwealth heads were meeting in London. The new Home Secretary Sajid Javid is a Tory banker, with a disgusting track record against immigrants even though his own parents were immigrants. The government is likely to renege on some or all of their promises, and they will try to use this moment to split Commonwealth residents from other immigrants – already the Home Office is quietly recruiting NGOs to help deport asylum seekers and their children.

We all have the right to be here. African, Asian, Caribbean and other Third World people have contributed over centuries to the wealth in the UK. We have suffered through imperial conquest, slave trades, plunder of resources, proxy wars, Western backed dictatorships, rape and other torture. More recent immigrants from Europe and elsewhere have also contributed with hard work and have made their lives here. The NHS would not function without people from all over the world who work hard
despite wage freezes, underfunding, privatisation, and poor working conditions.

We demand: An amnesty for all affected and immediate compensation for this persecution. Stop all deportations, detention and destitution. Abolish laws that recruit teachers, doctors, landlords, employers, etc., to snoop and report on immigrants. No collaboration by voluntary groups, charities and
NGOs with Home Office deportations.

Caribbean Labour Solidarity: info@cls-uk.org.uk
Women of Colour/Global Women Strike:
womenofcolour@globalwomenstrike.net

ARISE: A Festival of Labour’s Left Ideas

The event takes place in London on the evening of 27 July and all day on July 28 and participants include: Diane Abbott MP //.Richard Burgon MP // Shami Chakrabarti // Chris Williamson MP // Emma Dent Coad MP // Lucy Anderson MEP // Liam Young – writer // Lara McNeil – Labour NEC Youth representative // Rachel Garnham, Labour Party NEC member // Steve Turner – Unite the Union // Christine Blower – international secretary, NEU(NUT section) // Shelly Asquith – People’s Assembly Against Austerity // Danielle Tiplady – nurse & NHS campaigner // Siân Errington – Labour Assembly Against Austerity // Cllr Asima Shaikh,CLPD // Murad Qureshi – Stop the War Coalition // Hugh Lanning – Palestine Solidarity Campaign // Laura Morales – Justice Mexico Now // Maz Saleem – Stand Up to Trump // Jenny Manson – Jewish Voice for Labour // Huda Elmi – Momentum NCG member & BAME Labour activist // Sean McGovern,Co-Chair, TUC’s Disabled Workers’ Committee & Unite Executive Council (National disabled members seat) // Mike Jackson – Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) & more special guests to be confirmed. Join us for a weekend of people powered politics, internationalism and solidarity. Discounted tickets are available here.

Change is Coming: How Can We Achieve An Anti-Austerity Government? National People’s Assembly 2018

Saturday 2 June, 10am – 6pm, St Pancras New Church, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA

For nearly a decade falling living standards has been the reality for the majority. Our public services have been cut beyond recognition, our wages have fallen, access to education and decent housing is becoming more difficult as a result of austerity policies. But the last year has seen a turbulent time in politics, with the Conservatives in an internal crisis, with no majority in parliament. This situation is untenable, change is coming! But how do we build a movement that forces this Government from office? And when that happens what exactly do we need from a new Government that can reverse the damaging austerity policies that the Tories have presided over?

John McDonnell MP | Gary Younge (columnist) | Diane Abbott MP | Danny Dorling (author) | Amelia Womack (Dep Leader Green Party) | Steve Turner (Unite the Union) | Lindsey German (People’s Assembly) | Jonathan Bartley (Leader Green Party) | Sam Fairbairn (People’s Assembly) | Emma Dent Coad MP (Kensington & Chelsea) | Ben Chacko (Morning Star) | Dr Louise Irvine (Health Campaigns Together) | Alex Kenny (National Education Union) | John Rees (People’s Assembly) | Louise Regan (NEU) | Barry Gardiner MP (Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade) | Rachel O’Brian (NUS Disabled Students Officer) | Faiza Shaheen (CLASS) | Liam Young (Journalist & Author) | Cllr Ali Milani (Labour Party) | Glynn Robins (Axe the Housing Act) | Des Freedman (Goldsmiths UCU) | Moz Greensheilds (TUC JCC) | Andrew Murray (Unite the Union) | Jonathan Ashworth MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) | & more to be announced

Sessions include:

How much nationalisation do we need & should we compensate corporations? | Could councils fight austerity? | Is our NHS fit for purpose? | What would a national education service look like? | What would a national investment bank do? | How can we fight an establishment backlash? | A charter for working women | How many houses will solve the problem? | Strikes & solidarity: what do they look like? | Environmental justice and Social justice: How Green Policies can help working people? | Does our economy need immigration?

Barnet Alliance for Public Services is back!

To mark the occasion, Barnet Alliance have arranged for Mr Reasonable to provide a short overview on Capita and their relationship with Barnet Council.

Facebook event here.

As an added bonus they have incredibly managed to secure John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, he is speaking at PCS conference earlier that day but has said that he hopes to drop in at some point during the two hour meeting. John along with Jeremy Corbyn have a long association of supporting Barnet Alliance campaigns. Both them still talk about the Barnet Spring march that took place in a blizzard.

Barnet Alliance, will be both organising and supporting local campaigns in Barnet.

If you want to get involved in positive campaigning here in Barnet to help fight to support and save public services then start making plans to attend the weekly Barnet Alliance meetings.

Barnet Alliance meetings will be taking place every Tuesday from 6.30 to 8.30 at the Greek Cypriot Centre, 2 Britannia Rd, London N12 9RU

Rana Plaza 5 year anniversary panel discussion

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers, mostly women, were killed when their factory building collapsed. They had been producing clothes for some of the UK’s high street fashion brands.

To mark this, War on Want is hosting a one-off panel discussion on Rana Plaza, the Bangladesh Safety Accord and key issues for garment workers’ rights. Join us.

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers, mostly women, were killed when their factory building collapsed. They had been producing clothes for some of the UK’s high street fashion brands. Rana Plaza focused the world’s attention on the horrendous conditions garment workers were producing clothes for the likes of Gap, Topshop, Primark and other fashion brands.

Following Rana Plaza and together with the campaigning efforts of international and Bangladeshi trade unions and NGOs, the Bangladesh Safety Accord was put in place. It was the first tripartite, binding agreement between fashion brands, trade unions and government to ensure that garment workers’ health and safety were secured in factories in Bangladesh.

This year the Accord is up for renewal. Questions are being raised as to whether the Accord was able to achieve much needed improvements for garment workers in Bangladesh. Could it have done more? Did it set garment workers back? Is it still a mechanism that can be and should be replicated in other countries? And was it sufficient to ensure corporate accountability?

War on Want will be hosting a panel discussion to try to address these questions. On the panel will be:

  • Stephen Russell (TUC) – will reflect on the Bangladesh Safety Accord using his insights from recent field visits to Bangladesh
  • Alessandra Mezzadri (SOAS Development Studies) – will reflect on the Bangladesh Safety Accord taking into account the global garment industry, corporate impunity and NGO complicity

The panel discussion will be followed by a screening of a short documentary film made by the Rainbow Collective. We will also have on display photographs from our Women are the Resistance exhibition. Drinks and snacks will be served thereafter.

This is a critical moment for NGOs, trade unions and campaigners who are working on corporate impunity and workers rights to have this conversation. So please do join us!

Barnet TUC goes to Greenfell Silent Walk of Protest – Monthly Meeting Moved

In June, the second Thursday will be the 14th, which the aniversary of the Grenfell fire distaster.

Every month on the 14th, the Justice for Grenfell campaign does a silent protest of support and solidarity for survivors and the berieved of this completely avoidable catastrophe. Barnet TUC will mobilising for the aniversary protest and we are accordingly moving our meeting forwards to Thursday the 7th of June.

Invitation: London Renters Union member support training

Tuesday May 29 at 6:30pm // Common House, 5e Punderson’s Gardens, Bethnal Green, E2 9QG

To improve our lives and build a powerful union, we need to be able to deal with the immediate problems we face as renters in London  – from chronic disrepair to deposit theft to no-fault evictions. And we need to address these issues in a way that is informed, empowering and, when appropriate, can lead to collective action.

Through the experience of our members and founding organisations, and through our recent work in Newham and Eros House in Catford, Lewisham, the LRU is developing its knowledge and skills in effective member support.

This is already making a positive difference to the lives of a number of our members. We want to spread this knowledge and skill so that as many LRU members and activists as possible can do member support work themselves, as part of the branches we’re building now – or will build soon.

If that sounds useful to you, join this training, led by our member support working group. Look forward to seeing you there! The training is free and open to all, but please let us know you are coming by registering using our registration page.

What we will cover:

  • The big picture: how member support fits into the story and strategy of the union
  • Our rights as renters: how we’re protected against evictions, disrepair, and rogue landlords, and where we have little protection.
  • Training in our member support process: how to support fellow members to enforce their rights
  • Moving from individual support to collective action: how to come together to take action against the people who hold power, and win

As part of the training, we will be providing food. We can also arrange for childcare – please let us know if you’ll be bringing children along to the training workshop.

This training is free, but please let us know you are coming by filling out the form on our website. 

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.

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