Friday, 31 July 2015

Come and stop an opencast coal mine! Next Wed 5th August

Subject:Come and stop an opencast coal mine! Next Wed 5th August
Date:2015-07-31 14:25
From:Guy Shrubsole <guy.shrubsole@gmail.com>
To:Guy Shrubsole <guy.shrubsole@gmail.com>

Hi folks, spreading the word about this:

Come to see the devastating impact of opencast coal mining in south Wales - and then take part in a rally to stop a new opencast mine, next Wed 5th August!

Book your place on FREE coaches going from London & Bristol to the opencast coal rally next Wed, 5th Aug.  London coach departs Stockwell 9am; Bristol coach departs from The Friary 11am. For full itinerary and details please check out the Facebook event page here.

What's all this about? A new opencast coal mine is being proposed at Nant Llesg, near the town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. Opencast mining disrupts communities, pollutes the air, destroys local habitats - and is fuelling climate change when we need to be leaving fossil fuels in the ground. 
 
What's going to be happening? On 5th Aug we'll be visiting the UK's largest opencast coal mine, Ffos-y-fran, to see the devastation fossil fuel extraction causes. Then at the invitation of local campaigners, we'll take part in a rally against the proposed new opencast mine with local residents, Friends of the Earth campaigners and activists from across Wales and the UK. There is growing momentum against opencast mining - we can win this! 
 
If you can't make the visit & rally, please sign local resident Alyson Austin's letter urging the council to reject the proposed mine (7,000 signatures and counting) and spread the word!
 
Hope to see you next Wed,
Cheers and best wishes,
Guy

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Trident Debate


Friday, 24 July 2015

Democracy and Education Under Attack

B_UxXXEWsAAIVrc.jpg-large.jpegMichael Gove, his replacement Nicky Morgan and Labour’s Andrew Adonis have claimed for nearly 10 years that converting schools to academies drives up standards. Earlier this summer, the Education and Adoption Bill began its passage through Parliament. According to Nicky Morgan, the Bill will target ‘coasting schools’ and identify any that are ‘failing to push every child to reach their potential’. 
To achieve this, she intends to extend the sponsored academy model. Yet 13% of current sponsored academies are judged by Ofsted to be inadequate compared with just 3% of all schools. Henry Stewart (Local Schools Network - LSN) has analysed data to show that sponsored academies are twice as likely to remain ‘inadequate’ than schools staying with their local authority and that only 3 of the 20 biggest academy chains (or trusts) add above average value to GCSE results. When the Education Select Committee, chaired by a Tory MP, advises Nicky Morgan to ‘stop exaggerating the success of academies’ we might hope for a change in policy but the new Bill turbo-charges the discredited academy policy.  
The Anti Academies Alliance (AAA) has argued that the academy and free school agenda is, and always has been, about privatisation of our schools and undermining local democracy. While the Bill has been making its way through Parliament we have seen more evidence of this.
Our schools are being sold! An article in Property Week announced: ‘Legal & General’s Limited Price Inflation Income Property Fund has acquired an £11m primary school from Tottenham Hotspur football club... The purchase of the newly-built Brook House Primary School reflects a net initial yield of 4.02%....with a full guarantee from The Secretary of State for Education, on a FRI-linked 25 year lease.’ The total value of land handed to academy trusts since the policy began has been estimated at £10 billion and now, it seems, a property fund can describe a school as ‘an attractive opportunity to access a long term secure income stream, backed by the government’. Across London, Hounslow Council cabinet members have, controversially,agreed to award Floreat Education Trust the lease for a third of Brent Lea Recreation Ground - a public park - in return for a peppercorn rent and £60,000.
The scandals are not just about land. Recently a whistleblower from a Harris Federation academy claimed teachers were shipped in and children shipped out during an Ofsted inspection (The claim and response from the Federation, founded by carpet magnate Lord Harris, are on the AAA website). Last year there were allegations of ‘off rolling’ pupils at Harris Academy South Norwood – all to keep the data looking good.
The National Audit Office (NAO) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have both raised serious concerns about academy accountability and a report for the Education Select Committee found “questionable practices” in many academies. In June 2015 the Department for Education admitted that 99 academies had received warning letters with 11 academy chains receiving multiple warnings including AET – the biggest chain in the country. Fourteen chains, including a chain set up by The University of Chester, were prevented from taking on any more academies while others, like Prospects Academies Trust, folded leaving children’s education at risk. Earlier this year, the Charity Commission launched an inquiry and the NAO raised concerns about ‘related-party transactions’ involving Durand Trust and the Executive Head, Sir Greg Martin, was quizzed by the PAC about the school’s financial arrangements. TheCommittee was shocked to learn that Sir Greg earned more than £400,000 a year and ran a dating agency from the school.
Thankfully, those who care more about the education of children than the privatisation of schools aren’t easily misled and despite nearly 10 years of pro-academy inducements, more than two thirds of all schools have chosen to stay with their local authority – not least because trade unions, parent campaigns and the AAA and LSN have insisted on the truth about the motives and competence of academy trusts and chains.
Across the country, campaigns have exposed the hollowness and mendaciousness of academy proposals. The Save Downhills campaign gained the support of the local MP and ex-pupil, David Lammy, who called the decision to convert the school ‘undemocratic and brutal’. AtHove Park school academisation was resisted by parents and staff supported by Caroline Lucas MP. At Snaresbrook School, plans for academy conversion had to be abandoned after parents won the support of their Conservative council. The Stop Academies in Lewishamcampaign is holding back conversion, teachers in Newham are resisting academy status and in Norwich parents have been fighting to defend their local schools. The newly elected MP for Norwich South, and patron of the AAA, Clive Lewis used his maiden speech in the House of Commons to accuse the Inspiration Trust of being ‘Robber Barons’ trying to take over Hewett School against the wishes of parents together with £60m of land.
Where parents have been able to win the right to a ballot – as they did at Hove Park School – they have voted overwhelmingly against conversion. City of York Council has just agreed to urge schools considering conversion to ballot parents. But the response to these democratic challenges has been brutal: the proposed Act will remove the few modest vestiges of democracy and consultation. Sponsors will no longer be obliged to consult with parents and local communities. The new Act will demand that school governors and local authorities co-operate with the academy conversion process. Elected councillors and school governors will be forced to ignore impact assessments, the views of parents or staff or the headteacher and, instead, do what they are told by Whitehall.
Alasdair Smith, National Secretary of the AAA, summed up the Bill: ‘We have won the argument: becoming an academy does not lead to school improvement. We need to keep exposing the lie that academisation has anything at all to do with school improvement. This bill rides roughshod over parents, councillors, governors, teachers and support staff. It needs to be vehemently opposed.  We all must unite, across the political spectrum, to expose this government’s intentions to marketise and privatise our education system.’
The next open meeting of the AAA Steering Committee is 26th September 2pm. Look out for details on the AAA website.

Article Written for The People's Assembly by The Anti Academies Alliance

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Brighton People's Assembly July 2015 Newsletter

July 2015 Newsletter
View this email in your browser
Hello friends,

Our austerity addicted government has wasted no time in getting stuck in after the election....but our resistance to meet this onslaught grows in equal measures. Locally our meetings and actions are getting bigger and stronger. There's plenty to build on over the summer months, so please do support where you can!

Welcome to those new to this email list- we send out local news with details of campaigns and meetings once a month. All details are on our website at: http://www.brightonpa.org.uk/  If you have any ideas or want to help, please email pplsassembly.brighton@gmail.com. 
Brighton People's Assembly Against Austerity News
Balls to the Budget! 

In response to the Emergency Budget and the call for a national day of action, many people turned out on 8th July to throw balls and make some noise outside Brighton Town Hall. Alongside speakers from different campaigns, wewere also serenaded by Hullabaloo Community Choir and Robb Johnson. Check out Robb's new song he wrote for the occasion here
NEXT Organising Meeting: Wed 5th August 7.30pm @ Brighthelm Centre 

We will continue to make progress on the ideas that came out of our last large meeting - see below.
To get involved with any of the ideas come along to the meeting or send an email toppsassembly.brighton@gmail.com, Please address to the relevant contact (from the right hand column), and explain which activity you would like to get involved with.
IdeaContact
Organise in Worthing - ideas include greetings card to MP, QT event in September, get stories of people affected by austerity.
ACTION: Phone-in to Paul Miller show 10pm-1am, Radio Sussex. 
Pauline
Open meeting for private tenants  - mutual support
ACTION: Plan meeting jointly with Living Rent Campaign + other housing groups (Brighton Tenants Union, Home Sweet Home) – idea is to have a film-show (Spanish action against evictions) and discussion event, early in October (when students are back in town.)
Dani
Practical solidarity – volunteers provide solidarity and support to those affected by austerity e.g. accompany to Job Centre interviews / other appointments.
ACTION: Plan meeting to talk about this further, and try to involve people who are available during the day.
Rose
Solidarity with disabled people who are private tenants - taking action e.g.facing rent rises, losing benefits and facing eviction.
ACTION: put something on website and build group
Micha
Large anti-austerity event in December -  with speakers, sharing information, discussion etc. Possibilities: a festival in a number of venues or national anti-austerity speakers in a single venue; include film, performance, activists, campaigners, brilliant speakers- it will be interactive!
ACTION: Open meeting on 29th July at 7pm in the Friends Meeting House to discuss how we might plan this event-see below.
Aidan
 
Small regular events -  engage people, wider reach, e.g. Small Revolutions, pub quiz
ACTION: smaller group meeting to plan
Bethan
Week of events on climate change -  to coincide with UN talks. Possibility to Campaign for a proper cycle route to Newhaven as part of cycle ride to Paris (see below listings)Ken
Talks at Trade Union meetings and other external meetings - to start discussing support & actions together
ACTION: John to pull together draft presentation & discuss with volunteer presenters
John
Develop Union news section of websiteDave
Privatisation on education - Share information about impact of: forced acadamisationNadia
Twinning with groups in Greece - explore possibilityDave
Administration team - current tasks include website updating, email update, checking emails, facebook, twitter etc.
ACTION: Dani to start organising tasks with new admin volunteers
Dani
STAND UP TO AUSTERITY SHOW - Organising meeting
Wednesday, 29 July 2015 7pm-9.30pm

‘Let’s declare Brighton & Hove an Anti Austerity Zone’
We want to involve every campaign, activist group and trade union in the city so we’re holding this open meeting to begin planning the event.
Email standuptoausterity@gmail.com for more information
Small Revolutions VIII
Sunday 13th September 6.30pm@ The Grey's Pub, Hanover


Our 8th event bringing people together to support local campaigns against austerity whilst enjoying music, dance, poetry, comedy and everything in between! MC Michael James Parker will lead us through the amazing acts:

# Tracy Jane Sullivan ~ songwriting that weaves together reggae, jazz, country and soul, ranging from heart shatteringly exquisite to downright hilarious 
# Carl Walker ~ 'the only funny thing about the sell off of the NHS' - affectionate ribbing of our beloved health service by local writer, academic and campaigner 
# Broken Ears ~ raucous trio serving up blazingly fast americanapunk: "like Tom Waits on coke!"
# Aunty Austerity’s pub quiz~ for the first time ever we will have a political pub quiz segment!

Suggested donation £5 and all money raised goes to local campaigns against austerity and cuts

Details: https://www.facebook.com/smallrevolutions

 
Local Campaigns: Actions, Events & Meetings
Save Our Children's Transport Campaign
From September, Brighton & Hove City Council will be withdrawing disabled children's transport to school. Our children's safety is at risk - the wellbeing of our families is at risk. We are a group of parents planning to FIGHT BACK and demand that the council put our children first
The campaign is involving both taxi drivers and bus workers. This cut affects pay and conditions of both groups. If you are a Brighton & Hove bus or taxi driver, or if you know Unite & GMB activists on Brighton and Hove buses who want to help the campaign please email us.
We've just had a planning meeting and if you want to get involved emailpplsassembly.brighton@gmail.com and we'll pass your details onto the organisers.

 
Love Activists Brighton set up a street kitchen called the 'Love
Kitchen' every Sunday where possible.
See the facebook page for event pages:
facebook.com/loveactivistsbrighton
Donations of food and equipment welcome. No cash donations accepted.
If you would like to be part of the Love Kitchen Crews or Coordinate
please Email loveactivists@riseup.net
*Coordinators Urgently Needed* ... Not as formal as it sounds and
actually lots of fun, get in touch to find out more!!

 
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Stop the War on the Poor

New post on Derbyshire Green Party

Stop the War on the Poor

by janereynold
A typically timid Labour Party has felt unable to properly oppose the latest cuts to welfare benefits being proposed by a smug new Tory government. The Green Party has no such reservations.Green MP Caroline Lucas said, ahead of this week's vote:
"Our crumbling social security system is on the brink – now is the time to take a stand "
Cuts are proposed to Tax Credits and there is a plan to limit all financial support  to two children only. The slightly more generous benefits currently paid to those too unwell to work are being abolished. Young adults (under 21) will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit at all and those under 25 will not benefit from the introduction of a so called ' living wage' which, when combined with cuts to in work benefits will be nothing of the kind for many low paid workers.
Perhaps the most vicious of the proposed 'reforms' is the lowering of the Benefit Cap from £26,000 to £20,000 ( £23,000 in London). Under the existing cap the families affected are mostly large and living in London and the South East. The cap has had drastic consequences for many of them, forcing them to move away from areas where rents ( and the prospects of a job! ) are highest.
Under the reduced cap almost all families with 3 or more children will be affected, in all parts of the country.
A couple with 3 children living in Brighton in private rented accommodation for instance will only get £50 per week towards a rent which in is usually set at least at the Local Housing Allowance level of £230 pw. This means that £180 has to be found from £334 of benefits ( which are set at a level that even this government believes is the minimum amount required to afford essentials, not including
housing costs) leaving £154 pw for a couple and 3 children to live on, less than half of this minimum amount.
But even in Derbyshire, where rents are lower, the impact is huge, with such a family likely to be contributing up to £100 towards a private sector rent and not even having enough Housing Benefit to cover a council or housing association home , even if they all squeezed into a one bedroom flat!
The Benefit Cap must be strongly opposed on grounds of social justice but also because it makes no economic sense. Families will have to choose between eating and paying the rent, and many are likely to be made homeless as a consequence. They will then become the responsibility of cash strapped local councils to provide emergency accommodation, local councils which will have to implement the cap and are likely to take the blame for something over which they have no
control. Perhaps such families , who have chosen to feed and cloth their children rather than pay the rent , will be declared " intentionally homeless" and not entitled to assistance, in which case children will presumably end up in care at even greater expense and often with disastrous outcomes.
The main intention is probably not to save money but rather to scapegoat the unemployed , to divide those in work from those looking for it or not well enough to do so. The whole thing is based on the lie that it is easy to stay on 'welfare' with a higher income than those in work when the reality is that a family of five earning £20,000 a year in employment is also dependent on benefits ( Child
Benefit Tax Credit and Housing Benefit) to survive.
The Green Party is determined to oppose such scapegoating, and is pleased that at least a minority of Labour MP, were prepared to join Caroline and other opposition MPs in voting against the bill , breaking the whip to do so. We will work with members of all parties and of none to oppose this dreadful government, which is anxious to ensure the continued and growing prosperity
of the rich at the expense of the rest of us.
Join us in the fight for the common good. There is more wealth than ever in this country. It is just in the wrong hands.
janereynold | July 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

London Retired Members Branch Number 3 - July 2015 Newsletter



Newsletter #3 

Download the UCU London Retired Members Newsletter from here...or see below

Articles on:
  • The Labour Leadership Election and the NPC Pensioners Manifesto
  • Lewisham Southwark college plan to close their Camberwell site and sell it for £5 million
  • The Dominican Republic and Bahrain
  • Ongoing Dispute at the National gallery and further developments at London Metropolitan University
  • TUC to organise national demonstration in October
  • A book on "Working Lives and Trade Unions in West London 1945-95"

Branch Walks

Copyright © 2015 UCU London Retired Members Branch, All rights reserved.
UCU London Retired Members Branch - members and supporters

Our mailing address is:
UCU London Retired Members Branch
53 Fladgate Road
Leytonstone, London E11 1LX
United Kingdom


London Retired Members Branch Number 3 - July 2015 Newsletter

 The Labour Leadership Election and the NPC Pensioners Manifesto 

NPC Pensioners Manifesto

* A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week
* Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI,CPI, earnings or 2.5%
* Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over 75's and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means testing
* A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation
 * A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people

Following a discussion at the last UCU London Retired Members meeting, the branch secretary has written to all the candidates in the Labour Leadership election asking them whether they support the National Pensioners Convention's Pensioners Manifesto. Each candidate has been sent an email to their campaign address, an email to the House of Commons and a written letter in the post to the House of Commons.

After 3 weeks, only one has replied. Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team have said: "Yes, Jeremy does indeed support the National Pensioners Charter". The secretary has received numerous emails from the other candidates on a range of different topics but, alas, nothing that relates to the question actually asked.

 If you're a member of the Labour Party you can sign up to vote in the leadership election for free. Otherwise, you can become a registered Labour supporter for £3 to vote in the leadership election. More details from the website: http: //support. labour. org. uk/

 Stop this college closure: support the occupation

 Lewisham Southwark college plan to close their Camberwell site and sell it for £5 million. Police have threatened to evict occupiers trying to save the site. Ian Crosson, of Defend Lewisham Southwark College, said: “We want college governors to meet with us and look at alternatives ways out of this crisis than simply sacking key staff.” UCU believe strongly that the proposed cuts will have a devastating effect and that the notion these cuts will "save" the college is farcical.

Furthermore, the proposal to close Camberwell campus and its provision will further deprive the community of vital educational opportunities.

 The Society for Caribbean Studies condemns the threat by the Dominican Republic to expel thousands of its citizens of Haitian heritage.

 The Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic made a ruling in September 2013, which retroactively stripped the birthright citizenship from tens of thousands of people whose families have lived in the country for generations. The ruling covers Dominican citizens resident in the Republic since 1929 and their descendants, rendering them not only stateless but unable to attend school or make a living while becoming even more vulnerable to all kinds of hostilities. Researchers have already noted the impact of the ruling. A recent report by US trade unions concluded that “the deliberate creation of a stateless underclass increases the already formidable risks of exploitation”. It warned that the ruling could worsen poverty among those affected, because without an identity card people are relegated to informal jobs and have little bargaining power in relations with employers. The last time there was a major governmental crackdown against people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, during the 1937 “Parsley Massacre” by the forces of Dominican state, over 20,000 men, women and children were rounded up, then beaten or hacked to death for just being considered to be Haitian or simply looking as if they were because they were of African heritage. The Society for Caribbean Studies therefore calls upon governments, international and regional organisations, as well as human rights, and trade union organisations to put all available pressure on the government of the Dominican Republic to reverse this injustice. No ethnic cleansing in the Caribbean.

Bahrain 

In a recent statement, Education International reports that Jalila al­Salman and Mahdi Abu Dheeb, leaders of the suppressed Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA), have been awarded this year's Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights.

For more than two years the UCU London Retired Member branch has publicly opposed the atrocious treatment of the BTA and other Bahraini opponents of the absolute monarchy. Prisoner of Conscience The ongoing nature of the attack on the BTA is emphasised in Education International's report on the Svensson Prize: "Mahdi Abu Dheeb, currently incarcerated, was sentenced to five years in prison. His health condition worsens steadily due to a lack of essential and critical medical aid. He is recognised as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Jalila al­Salman was released after nearly six months in prison, but suffers still from a job ban and restrictions to her right to free speech."

British Base

In May of this year our branch's motion on Bahrain was carried at UCU Congress. In particular, the branch has been concerned about British government complicity in human rights abuses in Bahrain and support for the repressive regime which hosts a large British base in the country and we are calling for an international trade union led inquiry into British support for the regime. Read more about Bahrain on the branch website: www. ucu­ retired­ london. org. uk/bahrain3. html

Ongoing Dispute at the National gallery

 Previous issues of this newsletter have raised the question of the National Gallery's plans to privatise 400 of their 600 staff. These are the staff who are responsible for the security of the paintings and the public, looking after millions of visitors every year. 50 days on the picket line The next strikes in the campaign to oppose mass privatisation within the National Gallery and to demand the reinstatement of unjustly sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin, take place on 20­22 July 2015. The action on 20 July also marks 50 days of strike action taken by the PCS members working in the Gallery and the strikers are planning to make the day a real celebration of the tremendous solidarity and support that the long­running action has attracted.

PCS members at National Gallery will be striking every week through July and in August will be voting on escalating their action still further, if the gallery has not agreed to halt their privatisation plans and to reinstate Candy Udwin. Judge’s summing­ up at Candy Udwin’s successful Interim Relief Employment Tribunal Hearing “it actually says no more than that the claimant did what any employee, but perhaps more particularly one in the trade union looking for relevant material, could have done. That is, she accessed the respondent’s internet legitimately and found a document that was marked private and confidential. Having found the document she used it to do a calculation. That cannot be wrong or improper. ". . . .the claimant could have shared this with any other employee entirely legitimately. Instead, she told Mr Bemrose, her trade union national negotiator. I consider it highly likely that it will be accepted, as the claimant urges, that an internal trade union representative (here, the claimant) is at liberty to consult a senior national (i.e. external) trade union negotiator freely and openly with relevant concerns. . . . . .I do not consider it likely that the claimant informing Mr Bemrose will be found to be culpable of blameworthy conduct, let alone gross misconduct. . . . . . It actually was permissible trade union activities is what I consider an employment tribunal is likely to find.”

More details from the PCS website: www. pcs. org. uk/en/national­ gallery/national­ gallery. cfm

Further developments at London Metropolitan University

 Unison branch secretary at London Metropolitan University, Max Watson, has been targeted for compulsary redundancy. Both UNISON and UCU believe that this is politically motivated ­ it is the second time that they have tried to get rid of Max. Management are using this as a diversion from the fight to oppose 165 redundancies across the univeristy. The trade unions at Lonon Met are determined to fight the cuts and protect their union organisation. They deserve everyone's support.

REDBRIDGE TRADES COUNCIL PASSES MOTION IN SOLIDARITY WITH LONDON MET: This Redbridge Trades Council condemns the compulsory redundancy notice issued to London Metropolitan University UNISON Branch Secretary, Max Watson. We believe that the LMU management have taken this action because of Max Watson’s Trade Union activities and his active support for anti­cuts campaigns, both within the university and the wider community; we note his role in the successful campaign to re­instate Charlotte Monroe at our local,Whipps Cross hospital.

1) We call for the withdrawal of this notice
2) Offer unconditional support to UNISON in this action
3) Express solidarity with all those fighting for higher education and against the cuts at London Metropolitan University London Metropolitan staff will be on strike on 24th July: Strike Rally: 12.00­2pm Tower Building, 166­220 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DB

The TUC will organise a national demonstration in Manchester this autumn against the government’s austerity agenda and attacks on trade unions. It will take place on Sunday 4 October and will begin with a march through central Manchester, culminating in a rally close to the Conservative Party Conference. Workers and community organisations from across the country will join the demonstration, which will be the first the TUC has organised since the Conservative government came to power.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This October’s march and rally will allow thousands of ordinary people to show the government exactly what they think oft heir policies. “The Conservatives’ planned attack on trade unions and extreme cuts are an assault on working people at a time when they should be focused on securing the UK’s fragile recovery and creating better jobs to boost productivity.” Defend the Right to Strike We propose an energetic campaign across the trade union movement to safeguard our rights. We intend to make the case that trade union rights are democratic rights. No other voluntary organisation in society faces as much legal intereference in their internal affairs as we do in the trade unions. The right to withdraw one’s labour is a hallmark of a free society. We believe this law can be defeated if the movement acts quickly and decisively. Defeating it would be the first step in recovering the trade union rights which have been taken from us in recent decades