Monday, 26 July 2010


One year after the Vestas wind turbines occupation a new, unionised factory rises from the ashes

Publication Date: July 26 2010

Sureblades has been driven by Sean McDonagh, an RMT member and one of the sacked Vestas workers involved in the occupation where he ran operations from outside the gates. With the assistance of RMT officials, Sean and his colleagues set up meetings with Government officials and development agencies to put together the Sureblades business plan in tandem with Keith Hounsell who already installs turbines across the south.

Sureblades aims to begin the manufacture of micro-turbine blades in Newport on the Isle of Wight by late September and the company expects to have capacity to mould blades up to 12m long. They will be using cutting edge technology which will mean that the blades are 100% recyclable unlike conventional blades which have to be burnt or dumped in landfill.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"The former Vestas workers behind this imaginative new project have completely destroyed the argument put forward by the company at the time of closure that there was no market for UK manufactured turbine blades. Through their efforts to create jobs they have blown apart the bogus grounds put forward at the time for closure and redundancy of the workforce.

"RMT is very proud of what our former Vestas members have achieved so far and we are right behind them. They have also shown that it is far too easy for companies in the UK to soak up Government grants and then just cut and run when it suits them without any meaningful consultation, never mind a ballot of the workforce.

"We are also very pleased that the planned new operation will be RMT organised and that officials of this trade union have helped open the doors and make the contacts which have turned this project into a reality. But the real credit lies with the determination and solidarity of the workers who refused to accept that they were beaten. They are an inspiration."


Friday, 23 July 2010

No to Welfare Abolition south east regional conference

No to Welfare Abolition south east regional conference

Saturday 4 September from 1pm
Navarino Mansions community hall, Hackney

No to Welfare Abolition is a network of unemployed workers groups & benefit campaigners.

The regional conference will include groups from around the south east & London,
including the Brighton Benefits Campaign.

We would very much like to contact other campaigning groups who would be interested
in joining the network & attending the conference.

If you know of a group in your area please pass on the details
- the more we can join up the fight, the more likely we are to succeed.

Benefits are under attack! Fight back!

in solidarity

Pip Tindall
Brighton & Hove Green Party
Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton Workers Solidarity Group

Monday, 19 July 2010

Further and higher education will face cuts in public support of up to 25% :Sally‬ Hunt UCU General Secretary

Dear colleague

Funding cuts

Defend jobs, defend education. That is the phrase that has become the union's unofficial slogan in the past year. 

The government's announcement that further and higher education will face cuts in public support of up to 25% over the next three years means even more difficult times ahead, and once again therefore I am seeking your help.‬

UCU research estimates that 38,000 jobs will be lost in our workplaces as a result. Thousands of courses will go too, and we have already seen the grotesque spectacle of hundreds of thousands of qualified applicants being denied the right to go on to university.‬

This government's policy seems to be to use the current economic climate as a cloak to create differential access to our education system, and to make learners pay more for the 'privilege' of less.‬ I noted in The Guardian last week how depressing it is in these circumstances to see university and college heads pushing each other forward for the deepest cuts rather than uniting to lobby government against their impact.

UCU must not make the same mistake. Which is why I have signed an agreement on the union's behalf to campaign in partnership with the National Union of Students. Our two organisations do not agree on everything. Yet under Aaron Porter's leadership it is clear to me that NUS shares our view that savage cuts in provision combined with huge increases in the cost of education will be a disaster for our country. I hope soon to announce a joint student and staff national demonstration against the cuts as the first fruit of this relationship.‬

The coalition government’s first spending review takes place on 20 October. They are opening up the process to external consultation throughout the month of August. We need as many members as possible to write to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, putting forward the case for investment in publicly funded education rather than the huge cuts the Coalition is proposing. Click here to send a letter:

Your political activity

These proposed cuts mean that UCU must maximise its political influence. Are you a member of one of the main political parties? If so, please take a few moments to give us your details here:

Pensions news

Turning to pensions, the HE employers ignored the 96% vote by UCU members against their proposals to reform the USS scheme. USS will now begin a consultation on the plans. Given that the employers' proposals are detrimental to existing staff, particularly those under threat of redundancy, and create inferior benefits for new starters, I have called for this consultation to be a ballot of all fund members. Anything less will rightly be seen by staff as a sham.‬

For members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme, the Hutton inquiry commissioned by the government will also threaten future benefits. UCU's view is that the future of our members' pensions are too important to become a political football and we will be working with other unions to defend your rights.

National negotiations

Unsurprisingly, annual negotiations in both further and higher education have proved difficult this year, with pay offers well below the cost of living, and in the case of HE a refusal to agree joint procedures to avoid compulsory redundancy except as an absolute last resort.‬ 

UCU's Congress instructed the union to begin preparations for ballots of members in both sectors should a satisfactory offer not subsequently be made.

HE: On 25 June, our Higher Education Committee agreed that in the event of no agreement then the union should start a national ballot for industrial action in September.

FE: In FE there will be special sector conference to decide the union's position on pay for members in English colleges. Please make sure you attend your branch meeting in early September to have your say.‬

These days the idea that staff in further and higher education get a full summer break is fanciful.  However I hope that you are able to get away to recharge and I would thank you again for your support of this union in these difficult times.‬

Best wishes‬

Sally‬ Hunt

Ps I want to ask for your help one more time in showing support for Dr Miguel Angel Beltran, whose trial has now begun. This is our last opportunity to influence events and put pressure on the Colombian government. Please add your name to mine in an open letter to the Colombian government calling for Dr Beltran’s release:


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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tell the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Daily Star - LGBT asylum seekers are welcome here

Dear comrades

Following the homophobic witch hunt against asylum seekers in the tabloids yesterday we have initiated a statement calling for a full retraction and a protest outside of the Daily Express offices Thursday 15th July, 5.-6.30pm. In times of crisis we know there will be more attempts to divide us by whipping up bigoted ideas. But there has been widespread anger yesterdays newspapers with our statement and protest attracting widespread support already including from the NUJ Gen Sec and many members, UCU LGBT committee, NUS LGBT and Black student campaigns and more. We must take a stand against any attempted anti-gay backlash but also use this opportunity to win arguments in defence of asylum seekers and refugees.
Please circulate the statement widely and get backing from individuals, organisations and union branches. Send names to
Bring people and banners to the protest on Thursday 15th July
Check out facebook groups
In solidarity
Hannah Dee

Statement: Tell the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Daily Star - LGBT asylum seekers are welcome here
We condemn the disgraceful homophobic comments in the Daily Star, Daily Mail and Daily Express which attack the recent Supreme Court decision to prevent the deportation of two gay asylum seekers back to Iran and Cameroon.
The Express front page on 8th June headlined “Now asylum if You’re Gay: they must be free to go to Kylie concerts and drink multi-coloured cocktails, says judge”. The Daily Mail asked “What planet is he on?” and called his decision to give home to gay asylum seekers “infantile”. The Daily Star carried an editorial titled ‘No room for gays’ which claimed “opening the floodgates to gay asylum seekers is  absolute madness.” (see links to articles below)
The reality is very different. Homosexuality is still illegal in over 80 countries world wide. LGBT people seeking asylum in the UK are often fleeing attempted murder, serious assault or rape. Only this month a young gay man has been sentenced to death in Iran. In 2003 a gay Iranian man who had been refused asylum in the UK poured petrol over his body and set light to himself in the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester rather than go back to Iran.
Stonewall's recent report "No Going Back” reveals that only 1 in 50 people who claim asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation is admitted to the UK with applicants frequently being told by the UK authorities that they can avoid attacks by being "discreet" in their country of origin - that is, by lying about their sexuality for the rest of their life.
Abbey Kiwanuka from Uganda where there are moves to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality, said: “This (recent decision) gives me hope …..I feared for my life in Uganda. Just two weeks ago a gay man was beheaded. I lost my appeal because the court said I should go back and live a discreet life. I can’t do that. It’s impossible to do. ”
The only motivation in these tabloid articles is to whip up hatred and division. They want to weaken our support for persecuted people and use asylum seekers and LGBT people as scapegoats to divert attention from an economic crisis we did not create. This is designed to undermine opposition to the cuts which their rich friends want to force on us.
It also risks intensifying homophobia in Britain at a time when reports have shown an increase in reported homophobic attacks of up to 63%. The brutal murder of Ian Baynham in central London last Autumn is a terrible and tragic reminder of where this can lead.
We remember Jan Moir’s homophobic article in the Daily Mail following Stephen Gately’s death in which she claimed “Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one” and questioned civil partnerships. Despite a record 22,000 complaints, including one made by Gately’s former partner, the Press Complaints Commission found no case to answer. This cannot be allowed to happen again.
We demand an apology and retraction of the vile views published in The Daily Star, Daily Express and  Daily Mail and that they publish the truth about the persecution which LGBT refugees and asylum seekers face in their home countries, and about homophobia here in Britain.
We urge you to write to the papers’ editors, post comments online and register a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.
We also support calls for a protest outside the Daily Express Thursday 15th July, 5-6.30pm.
Supported by: Supported by Love Music Hate Homophobia, Jeremy Dear NUJ Gen Sec, Michelle Stanistreet Dep Gen Sec NUJ UCU LGBT members committee, Elly Barnes LGBY history month/Schools Out, Vicki Baars & Alan Bailey NUS LGBT campaign, Socialist Workers Party, Richard Simcox National press officer PCS, Mark Bergfeld NUS NEC, Aaron Kiely NUS Black students campaign, Stow College Student Association, Sean Fox Branch Sec Haingey UNISON, Robert Goddard Youth and Education Officer Stonewall Cymru, Dave Toomer NUJ NEC rep for North West England, Steven Bird, deputy FoC, Katie Carnie, chapel officer, David Crouch, FoC. from NUJ Financial Times, Jason Brown LGBT rep NUS Black students campaign, Jess Hurd Chair NUJ London Photographers' Branch and many more. All individuals in a personal capacity.
To add your name please email:

Homophobic Articles

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Academies - Urgent Action Required Protest on July 19th

Academies - Urgent Action Required
Protest on July 19th
Anti Academies Alliance backs the 19th July lobby of Parliament called by education unions. On the second reading of the Academies Bill, Monday 19th July, The education unions have called a lobby of Parliament over the cuts in the Building Schools for the Future programme. While Michael Gove is slashing the rebuilding of hundreds of schools around the country he is promising extra money for any school that becomes an Academy, and to anybody who wants to open a ‘Free’ school. The crisis over BSF is intimately linked with the Academies programme. In many places Academies were forced on Local Authorities in order to secure BSF funding. In some areas all that remains are projects to build Academies. The divisive nature of this highlights our concerns about the tendency towards greater social segregation. We are also concerned that the government will use the October comprehensive spending review to put academies and 'free' schools at the top of the priority list.
But our main focus remains the Academies Bill which gets its second reading on the 19th July. This bill seeks to develop a 'revolution' in education policy by which academies become 'the norm'. As it stands, the Bill denies parents (or staff and the local community) the right to any consultation over the decision to seek academy status. It paves the way for an unprecedented deregulation and privatisation of schools. It will create the conditions for the undermining of Local Authority support for schools in vital areas such as SEN, admissions and behaviour. It will prevent the rational planning of school places in the future allowing dis-economies of scale to develop. The new 'free' schools it will encourage will mean other schools have to close.
The AAA urges anti academies campaigns around the country to mobilise for the lobby. We urge parents to join with us.
The future of a good local school for every child is in question. Let's ensure our voices are heard.
Rally at Methodist Central hall, opposite Parliament 1pm, 19th July, followed by lobby of MPs. Campaigning against the Academies Bill Around the country teachers, school staff and parents are campaigning to persuade schools that have expressed an interest becoming an Academy to change their mind. 

  • Write to your MP
  • EDM 135 Please ask your MP to add their name to this Early Day Motion. Currently 68 MPs have signed it. EDM 135 PROPOSED ACADEMIES LEGISLATION 02.06.2010

To write directly to your local MP on amending the Academies Bill to ensure proper consultation go to the 38 Degrees Site

Martin Francis, Brent Green Party Spokesperson on Children. Families and Schools

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Growing opposition to the Academies Bill

Growing opposition to the Academies Bill

The opposition to the Academies Bill continues to grow.

The number of MPs signing the EDM has reached 68, with many Labour MPs demanding consultation before schools can become Academies.

The Children’s Services Network and Local Government Information Unit have produced a useful briefing.

The Anti Academies Alliance public meeting in London last week saw 250 people pack the room. Alongside the excellent platform speakers from the floor included a Headteacher, chair of governors, and teachers organizing against Academy proposals in their schools. There have been meetings around the country, with many more to follow.

In Calderdale parents are organizing to save their school

In Brent protestors gathered outside Claremont High School to leaflet and protest ( see update from Martin Francis below)

These are examples of what could be done at every school that threatens to become an Academy.

Meetings against the Academies Bill
   ·    Wakefield - A fair school system for all
* Trafford and Salford - Defend State Education
* Alliance Against Birmingham Academies meeting
* Manchester - Briefing meeting on the Academies Bill and Free Schools
* Cornwall - no more academies
* Norwich - Defend State Education

Anti Academies Newspaper – reprinting already
The first print run of the newspaper has run out and we have ordered a reprint.
We want to get this to parents in as many schools as possible, particularly if their school may be interested in becoming an Academy.
Free to parents groups, £3 per hundred to union groups (plus postage).
Please order newspapers as soon as possible, we can invoice union branches.
Download a copy here
Order form available here
If you are posting an order for the newspaper please also send us an email so we can send it out as quickly as possible.

Write to your MP

EDM 135
Please ask your MP to add their name to this Early Day Motion. Currently 68 MPs have signed it.

Sign our Petition
here Petition Please download and circulate the petition
Please return the petition as soon as possible. Those that have been returned so far have pages filled. Thanks.

Anti Academies Alliance financial appeal
The work of the Anti Academies Alliance is supported by affliations, donations and voluntary labour.
You can help by:
Asking your organization to make a donation to the Anti Academies Alliance
checking that your organisation is affiliated or has reaffiliated;
by signing a standing order form for £2 a month;
posting the bulletin on your staffroom noticeboard or forwarding it;
putting a link to the website on your Facebook page.
Affiliation leaflet and Standing Order mandate -

Wealthy to dominate Academies

TES cover story – Academies: An issue that’s not clear cut

Lib Dem councillor says 'Academising' our primary schools will not solve parents' problems

Brent Council letter to schools

Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?
You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on
Facebook -!/pages/Anti-Academies-Alliance/178831804728?ref=ts
Twitter -
RSS feed -

CLAREMONT ACADEMY (Brent)  update from Martin Francis

The Governing Body of Claremont High School has acted after contradictory statements from the headteacher over applying for academy status. Terry Malloy's statements to the press had ranged from the tentative to the gung-ho and resulted in an anti-academy demonstration outside the school. Reading between the lines it appears that there might have been a good old-fashioned row on the governing body.

A statement published in the Harrow Times said:
"The discussion was full and frank. At this point in time, the governing body has concluded that no expression of interest in pursuing academy status will be made and the school will continue to explore the specific and wider implications of academy status to be better informed."

As Brent Green Party spokesperson on Children, Families and Schools I welcome the governing body's statement which indicates that they have recognised their democratic responsibilities and the need to be accountable to the wider community. I hope that after due deliberation they will reject the academy option on the grounds that it would undermine central services provided by the local authority, take money from other schools, and remove democratic accountability.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Derbyshire cuts leaflet (please adapt; acknowledgements to Peter Allen)

The Green Party Manifesto offered the electorate an economic programme that would reduce our national debt without cutting vital public services. This programme is the Green New Deal.
It is a response to the triple crisis that the world now faces:
A financial crisis caused by the uncontrolled speculation of international bankers, including many based in the City of London, interested in quick profits, rather than sustainable development, creating a financial bubble, which was bound to burst and did.
An energy crisis as the supply of oil peaks, and remaining reserves become more damaging and dangerous and expensive to extract
A climate crisis driven by burning fossil fuels, resulting in increased global temperatures, threatening the very survival of humanity.
The Green New Deal proposed a major investment in energy conservation and renewable energy, creating thousands of sustainable jobs.
It proposed the serious regulation of the financial sector to prevent the reckless behaviour that led to the financial crisis, while ensuring that low cost finance was available for the construction of a low carbon economy.
The Green Party showed in its manifesto that it is possible to reduce our deficit while putting more people to work, protecting public services, and ensuring that the tax burden falls on those who can afford to pay.
Caroline Lucas, newly elected Green Party MP in Brighton, has spoken out against the economic destruction threatened by the ConDem government’s budget:
“Cuts are not an economic inevitability. They are an ideological choice. Politicians of all parties are now sharpening their axes to slash public spending, forcing those on lower incomes, who depend on public services the most, to pay the highest price for the recent excesses of the bankers.
That’s the challenge I’m issuing: for that political choice to be made. It must be clearly asserted that we are not all in this together: that some had more responsibility for this crisis than others, and some benefited more from the boom that preceded it. Those who enjoyed the largest benefits must pay up now. There is a choice. We should ask those best able to pay to foot the bill through fairer taxation. For that to happen, fair taxes, not cuts, must become the new big idea to replace today’s callous and uncaring cuts fanaticism.”
Only The Green Party has the policies and principles required to address the problems facing Britain and the world in these dangerous times.