Monday, 23 May 2011

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Bulletin No.14
Monday 23 May 2011


Spanish square austerity protests grow by the hour.
Thousands of people have massed in city centres across the country in a swelling movement that began on May 15, the biggest spontaneous protests since the property bubble exploded in 2008 and plunged Spain into a recession.

Youtube video here http://bit.ly/l2swYo. Report here: http://bit.ly/kOtQM3 and picture here: http://bbc.in/maRLRV and live streaming from Puerto del Sol can be found here http://bit.ly/isU8tT


TUSC calls conference on 16 July in London to plan strategy for year ahead to 2012 elections – 10.30 registration for 11am start.

The TUSC Steering Committee met on 9 May and agreed to call together everyone who stood as a candidate, their agents and key campaign supporters in the recent elections to review the recent campaign and plan ahead for the coming year.

In addition, the conference will probably be extended to include all of those who may be thinking of standing in the 3 May 2012 local elections in 128 English Local Authorities and all Welsh Councils. You can see the full list here: http://bit.ly/jPuYoV

The TUSC Steering Committee will be meeting on 13 June to discuss an agenda for the day. The emphasis will be on discussing the strategic and campaigning lessons of our recent campaign and planning early for the 2012 elections. It is likely that there will also be a separate meeting, on another date, to discuss the Greater London Assembly and London Mayoral elections which also take place in 2012.

We will let you have further details about time and venue. Plan to arrive and register for a conference starting at 11am. There will be a small registration fee to help pay for the event but we will keep the costs low to enable as many to attend as possible. If you have suggestions about items for discussion please let us have them at tuscbulletin@yahoo.co.uk

From the Unions

PCS votes for co-ordinated strike action to fightback against ‘brutal government’.
Mark Serwotka said ‘In leading our members into battle, not only do we know it’s right to do so, but we can be proud of that fact that already we have helped four other unions come to the conclusion that we have come to, and if we make a stand in June, we could be the difference that gets millions of others out on strike as well, that could turn the tide against this government. I know that’s the right thing to do. I know it’s going to be tough. But I have confidence in you as our activists and our members to deliver… a massive strike, and begin the fight back against this brutal government.’ Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/jT9EHf

Heathrow Express rail workers vote 95 per cent in favour of strike action in pay dispute.

RMT members based at Heathrow Airportand Paddington will strike for 48 hours on Friday May 27, and for 24 hours on Friday June 24. Further action will also be scheduled in July. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: ‘The company knows it has tabled a completely unacceptable pay offer that is loaded with strings, yet despite a massive vote for action by our members it has made no attempt to negotiate or improve its offer.’ For more read here: http://bit.ly/jFvcHM

FBU conference prepares for national strike action
A strike in the fire service over changes to the pension scheme came a step nearer today as the Fire Brigades Union conference asked members to ‘prepare for national strike action.’ Read more here: http://bit.ly/khtbeH

UCATT warns HSE cuts risk workers safety
Construction union UCATT is warning that planned cuts in how dangerous incidents are reported will greatly increase dangers in the workplace. Last week the Health and Safety Executive announced that from September 2011 it was closing its infoline and that in future the reporting of accidents and dangerous incidents could only be undertaken online. For more: http://bit.ly/mqFA1f

Turkey criminalizes union action

The Turkish government has filed criminal charges against 111 union leaders, members and supporters which carry prison terms of up to 5 years in connection with a 2010 demonstration in Ankara. The Ankara action was in support of 12,000 workers made redundant overnight following the privatization of the state tobacco monopoly TEKEL. Read more here http://bit.ly/j9FIqG

Defend Iraqi Trade Unions

The Iraqi government have launched a crackdown on unions, with a heavily politicised committee appointed to take over union elections, assets and offices: See http://bit.ly/l98cGX


Minneapolis Grocery Store Cleaners Launch Hunger Strike


A mad dash to outsource cleaning services to the lowest bidder has cut wages to minimum wage (sometimes less) with no benefits. A Minneapolis worker center announced a hunger strike to protest the conditions. See:http://bit.ly/kKVwvA


Cuts action coming up

Picket of Pickles, Cambridge
UNISON and the PCS Cambridge Branches are holding a ‘Picket of Pickles’ from 6pm on Tuesday 24 May at Bridge Street in Cambridge. Bring banners, placards, friends and family and let’s give Pickles a warm Cambridgeshire welcome.

Bolton Uncut: Defend Our NHS
Bolton TUC and Uncut campaigners are organising a protest outside Barclays Bank in Bolton Town Centre from 12:00 lunchtime on Thursday 26 May to protest at money for bankers while cuts are being made to our NHS. Organised by Bolton Trades Council

Yorkshire regional conference on cuts
Saturday 28 May 2011, 12:00 noon at the PCS Office, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, Leeds LS2. A conference to discuss building the campaign across Yorkshire. Entry £2 - proceeds go towards funding the Jarrow March for Jobs.

CornwallSleep-Out Protest Against Supporting People Cuts May 29th
The Supporting People service which provides sheltered housing and homelessness support, is being slashed by 40 per cent despite Cornwall having the second highest rate of homelessness in England. A ‘sleep-out’ demonstration is taking place on 29 May from 8pm until 7am the next day outside Truro Cathedral. Bring a sleeping bag! Hot drinks will be provided. More information here.


Information burst

Food prices, food crisis…what’s going on?
The food crisis and its consequent misery, starvation and deaths are not inevitable, says Hamid Sodeifi, but are rather the necessary and rational outcomes of a socio-economic system whose sole objective is the creation of profits. Short article here: http://bit.ly/j1fxzT

It takes more than 600 lawyers to run a privatized railway
A response from TUC and rail unions to the McNulty Review on rail value for money, can be found here PDF file (188,405 bytes). Bob Crow explains why nationalized railways would serve us all better on Radio 4 Today programme here: http://bbc.in/lMjw05 (it begins at 1hr 13 minutes) and reveals that Network Rail has a mere 600 lawyers to deal with legal problems arising from fragmentation.

Don’t mess with May Day

The government have launched a consultation on moving May Day bank holiday to October. But why not keep it and have an extra October day as well? We could do with it! Send your message to the consultation and help raise support on Twitter: http://www.tuc.org.uk/keepmayday

Boss replies to low tax criticisms
'I couldn't care less. I will continue to do what I do'. Stefano Pessina, chairman of Boots, when challenged on criticisms that last year Boots had only paid £25m in tax on profits of £637m.

Wage theft in the US: http://www.wagetheft.org/


TUSC information
You can find out more about TUSC at: http://www.tusc.org.uk/index.php
To donate to TUSC go here: http://www.tusc.org.uk/donate.php

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TUSC aims to bring trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts campaigners together to stand candidates at elections who are committed to representing working-class interests. Resistance to the cuts is vital, but we also need a political alternative to the policies of cuts and privatisation. TUSC believes that a new working-class party is needed that campaigns for a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

THE FIGHT AGAINST CUTS GOES ON!

Reflecting a current mood to punish the Con Dem government for their savage cuts, New Labour has increased it’s grip on Stoke-on-Trent city council in the local elections on 5 May.

The Lib Dems have been removed completely and the Tories have lost six seats leaving them with a rump of just two. Community Voice have also lost all their seats along with other independents.

Particularly welcome is the complete removal from the council of the far right, racist BNP but we should not be complacent about this because in the wards where they stood they polled an average of 10% whilst the other far right organisation England First averaged 12.5%.

The average 3.9% vote obtained by the six Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition candidates standing in our first ever council elections are therefore impressive where the desire by many to punish the Con Dems by voting New Labour locally has squeezed the vote for the smaller parties.

This also with a background of the local media completely ignoring our campaign. Compare this to the Sentinel front page coverage (more than once) when the BNP announced they would be standing seven candidates in 2003.

The first time TUSC stood a candidate in Stoke-on-Trent was only last year in the general election when Socialist Party member Matt Wright stood in Stoke Central Constituency. A comparison between then and now shows a small but very significant increase in support for TUSC.

At the 2010 general election 133 people voted TUSC out of the 32,470 who voted across the Central constituency. In these local elections we have stood in six wards. In those wards, from just 12,656 who voted, 486 voted for TUSC. That’s an increase of 353 votes from almost 20,000 less voters! Of some importance also is that our best percentage of the vote, 5.4%, was won in the ward where the leader of the BNP was standing.

The most important feature of these elections was the emergence of TUSC to provide an organised trade unionist and Socialist based opposition and alternative to all the savage cuts implemented by the Con Dem government and the city council. Socialist Party members and other trade unionists particularly from the PCS and CWU formed the backbone of the election campaign.

Disgracefully, local members of the Socialist Workers Party, despite being a component part of TUSC, have completely ignored our campaign. In the words of a prominent New Labour campaign activist they have instead been ‘arse lickers’ to New Labour – “They do anything we tell them”, he said.

New Labour should enjoy their jubilation at winning control of the city council while they can because their problems have only just begun. During New Labour’s election campaign they falsely claimed to have ‘Saved the Children’s Centres’. During the last week of the election campaign Save our Children’s Centres campaigners were out everyday collecting names objecting to the council cut of 30% in funding as ‘unacceptable’. This will increasingly be the music of the future!

In the fight against cuts, the New Labour dominated city council will need to decide individually and collectively which side they are on. They can be part of the Con Dem drive to take us back to the misery, poverty and unemployment of the 1930′s or they can adopt the fighting traditions of the 1980′s – of the miners, of Liverpool’s Socialist Council, of the mass movement against the Poll Tax which defeated Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.

We are not prepared to stand by while we are taken back to the 1930′s! In the weeks and months ahead we will developing further the fight against all cuts.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

It's official - in Stoke-on-Trent only TUSC will fight against cuts!


The PCS Make Your Vote Count Campaign came to Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday 28 April providing the first opportunity for the Cuts Coalition Council of Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and Independents to be challenged on a public platform by a serious alternative to their savage cuts by TUSC local election candidates.

Over forty trade unionists, community campaigners and students heard Nick Gore from the Lib Dems explain why cuts ‘were necessary’ that ‘it was Labour’s fault’ etc.

Much more important however was the clear difference between TUSC’ s opposition to all cuts and the position taken by Mohammed Pervez, Labour leader and leader of Stoke-on-Trent’s Cuts Coalition. He defended Labour’s and the Coalition’s savage cuts of £36 million as being necessary because of government funding cuts and that there was nothing we could do.


Scialist Party member and TUSC candidate for Meir North, Andy Bentley, speaking from the platform, explained that, “this was not true and that some of the £61 million reserves that Stoke-on-Trent city council has along with legal borrowing powers could have been used to prevent these cuts linked to a citywide campaign to force the government to provide extra resources”

In response, Mohammed Pervez lamely told us that he had sent letters of protest to government Ministers but they had still not budged! Approaching the use of reserves and borrowing as a bank manager he ruled this out because it would cost more in the future. But this is to ignore the linking of such measures to the building of a campaign to demand more money from the government.

Most of the Labour councillors, election candidates and members present had nothing to say about actually fighting against cuts. Labour Party member and North Staffs TUC President Jason Hill who is spearheading a so called ‘relaunch’ of North Staffs Against Cuts with a new constitution whose first aim is “To stop all public sector cuts” was silent at this event. (For the background to this divisive attempt to set up a rival anti-cuts alliance to that which was officially launched at a Conference on 21 January 2011 see http://www.stokesocialistparty.org.uk/?p=796 )

Most bizarre contributions from the floor came from Socialist Workers Party members. Rob Cartlidge posed a question to all those on the platform, “why should young people vote?” Andy pointed out to him that, “as your Party, the SWP, are a component part of TUSC and are also standing TUSC candidates across the country I would have thought you would be calling on young people to vote for TUSC and that your help with the TUSC campaign in Stoke-on-Trent would be welcome”

SWP member Abigail’s only contribution was to ask Andy, “Why do you keep attacking Labour?” This, despite the fact Andy had already pointed out that, “Labour said they wouldn’t introduce Tuition Fees and they did, they said they would repeal the anti trade union laws and they didn’t, they made the gap between richer and poorer greater, took us into two wars, increased the casualisation of labour, attacked pay and conditions of workers and are now carrying out savage cuts in jobs and services – need I go on?”


Mohammed Pevez’s statement that Labour ‘had saved Children’s Centres’ was met with disbelief and anger by Alan Lear who has been one of the Save Our Children’s Centres’ campaigners who forced Labour and the Cuts Coalition to remove the threat to seven of the sixteen centres across the city. To read Alan’s written response click on link below

http://pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2011/04/stoke-trents-socc-angry-labour-leaflet-claims

This was an important event in the city and special thanks should go to PCS youth rep Jo Mee for organising it because it provided an important opportunity to discuss publicly a serious alternative to the usual diet of ‘we must make cuts’. More than fifteen thousand TUSC leaflets given out across the six wards where we are standing and events like this one have forced the issue of a real alternative to cuts on to the agenda.

In summing up Andy told the meeting that these were

the most important local elections in Stoke-on-Trent for decades. Why? Firstly, because we need to stop this cycle of cuts, cuts and more cuts. Secondly that councillors elected will be in place for four years and we can’t afford four more years of cuts.

On 5 May people in Stoke-on-Trent are faced with a clear choice, you can vote for Lib Dem, Tory, Labour, BNP, Community Voice or others and you will guarantee job losses, cuts, closures and privatisations or you can vote for TUSC for a fight against those cuts”

- – - – - STOP PRESS – - – - -

Apparently Labour Party members during the PCP hustings event were tweeting about TUSC and the Socialist Party wanting to “take us back to the 1980′s”.

The reality is that the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem’s plans for savage cuts, if not stopped, will take us back to the mass poverty and unemployment of the 1930′s. But they are right about the Socialist Party wanting to rebuild the 1980′s fighting traditions of the miners, Liverpool’s Socialist Council and the victory over Thacher’s Poll Tax.

Nothing less will suffice in the struggle against the three main parties attempt to make ordinary working class people pay for a crisis created by big business, top bankers and successive governments.