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.

Report from Housing Activists Conference by Tayieba Shah

housingThe Housing Summit was what I’d expected it to be. It was amazingly well attended over 250 people surpassing the expectations of I think the organisers and attendees alike. It was heartening to see so many people. It had good coverage of London and organisations outside London, from Bristol and people from Norwich. The Conference had great speakers and the morning was taken up by Speakers followed by questions and answers. The afternoon was broken up into work shops. I attended the young people and housing work shop. There were young Londoners under imminent threat of eviction, some of which may have taken place by now. Luckily for at least one attendee the people from Camden council were in attendance and personally offered to help with one young man’s eviction notice. The brief was to come away with at least 5 action points from every work shop -of which I do not have a complete list now available to me, but to continue to organise and oppose around the housing act was at least one other workshop.

Even though it was organised well, attendees from the floor wanted to be heard and share their stories. Time went quickly and we ended up having 10 minutes for lunch and rushing to our chosen workshops. There were excellent suggestions from the young people and the housing crises workshop. The one I can still recall was from a teacher who suggested that we go into schools and sixth form colleges to inform young people what is coming to them – Basically virtually no choices in housing whatsoever. Letting young people know and preparing them for what is going to be a very difficult task to make an adult lifestyle – having those lifestyle choices taken away from them, ensures that we recruit new activists while informing young people of their current reality in housing.

There was some heated discourse on whether guardian agencies could be recruited into helping more young people into housing. This was controversial as usually the guardians have been put into housing that families once occupied as in Dollis Valley and perhaps they had absolutely no place in real housing choices for anybody. Charging extortionate rents and giving people even less rights than normal tenants.

I have to say that even though I put my hand up all the time to ask questions and contribute, I was the only one representing Barnet and I was largely ignored and not allowed to speak. I think because all our stories are of people being evicted and not winning. It was clear to me that the organisers wanted only a positive contributions to the floor of the summit.

Unfortunately I could not stay beyond 4pm so missed the summary and conclusions of other workshops but I know it was a successful day. It was reassuring to know that there is a real opposition amongst some councils that the housing act is unrealistic and untenable and unworkable even if they were not short of money, most councils would find it impossible to implement. Also I learnt that pay to stay is not law yet and should not be treated as such. Some councils at the other end of the spectrum are implementing policies, like Barnet for example, that are not yet law and can be justifiably refused by people.

It was altogether a good day for axing the housing act and for networking with each other, getting to know new people in housing.

Tayieba Shah

SERTUC Women’s Rights Committee, White Ribbon Event – Friday 25 November 2016

SERTUwhiteribbonC Women’s Rights Committee OPEN invite to mark: WHITE RIBBON DAY
Friday 25 November 2016
6 – 8pm, TUC Congress House

Guest Speakers include:

  • James Chespy – from the White Ribbon Campaign
  • Hilary Burrage – Socialist Author and Campaigner Against FGM
  • Diana Holland – Unite AGS with responsibility for Equalities

Let’s end violence towards women and girls, SERTUC is committed to ending violence against women and girls so join us to mark the day when we get together to highlight the issues and work together to end it once and for all. A conservative estimate by the UN states that 35% of women worldwide have experienced violence at the hands of another person and 43% of women in 28 EU states have experienced some form of physiological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The ‘Helen/Rob’ storyline in ’The Archers’ has reached millions of people and, via a ‘just giving’ page, has raised over £98,000 for the women’s charity, Refuge.
Information about the venue: Congress House is a fully accessible building  

Leaflet here.

Reclaiming our NHS! Camden Public Meeting

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Our NHS is in crisis and under attack, we must stand up and fight for it!
Please come to our Reclaiming the NHS public meeting on the 30th November 7-9pm, Council Chambers, Camden Town Hall Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE.
The junior doctors strike has alerted us all that our NHS is being stolen from us. It can only be saved by a massive public campaign.

80% of NHS staff are women. Over 30% are immigrant. Hear what they have to say on the impact privatisation has already had on the NHS and emergency services.

Find out which local services are threatened by cuts and privatisation (Sustainability & Transformation Plans – STPs).

Plan together what we can do to stop this.

Speakers so far include:

  • Dr Aislinn Macklin, BMA & Junior Doctors Alliance
  • Bernie Rochford, ex-clinical commissioner
  • Noel Finn, whistleblower
  • Dr Louise Irvine, Save Lewisham Hospital, Keep Our NHS Public
  • Dr Mona Kamal
  • Dr Rishi Dhir

Yannis Gourtsoyannis, local junior doctor / BMA Junior Doctors Committee
And others: consultants, midwives, carers, ancillary staff, cleaners, patients, disability & other campaigners, and entertainers are being invited to speak. MPs and councillors will be asked to respond to what’s being raised.

Please share this event!

Called by Camden Momentum. We invite all Momentum groups, Labour Party branches, NHS campaigns, community organisations to endorse this meeting and circulate this information widely.
Contact us at: camdenmomentum@gmail.com
More resources eg. leaflets, petitions, postcards and pledges available from here

Christmas Social in Aid of the Homeless

crisisparty

Hosted by Barnet Momentum, Barnet Trades Council and Barnet Alliance for Public Services
Saturday December 3rd from 7 – 11.30pm
Safari Bar North Finchley.

Food and beverage will be available to buy from behind the bar. As it is so near christmas we have decided to have christmas theme – donation at the door – proceeds to Streets Kitchen which will be used for distributing meals/clothes/info for the homeless.

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