Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Caroline on the Picket Line


Commenting ahead of the public sector strikes across the country tomorrow, Brighton Pavilion MP and leader of the Green party of England and Wales, Caroline Lucas, said:

“Many teachers and other public sector workers have contacted me over the past week to express hope that striking wouldn't be necessary – that the Prime Minister would start taking their pension concerns seriously. Sadly the Coalition Government’s relentless attack on this country’s public servants has left them with no choice.

“We know that public sector pensions are affordable – this is really about piling the UK’s debt burden onto the people who did the least to create it. I believe that fair pensions are worth fighting for, so I will be joining the picket lines in solidarity with my constituents who have been abandoned by the other main Westminster parties.

“This isn’'t something I do lightly. I regret the disruption caused by industrial action and think it must only be used in special circumstances – and would urge trade unions to work hard to ensure support from the wider public.

“Yet when teachers are being expected to pay 50% more in pension contributions, work longer and get less pension when they retire – and when negotiations are failing – targeted and considered action is clearly necessary.”



GPTU calls on all its members and all Green Party members to suppot the strikers of UCU, ATL,NUT and PCS in the pensions strike tomorrow. We have posted a message from Sally Hunt of UCU on the GPTU blog which explains that, contrary to media myth, public sector pensions are hardly generous. These pensions are in any case a slight compensation for the low salaries of the public sector where many workers do their work out of a sense of public service. Why should these workers pay with their pensions for a crisis of international finance.

As our French comrades are saying: “30 JUIN 2011 : SOLIDARITÉ AVEC LE ROYAUME UNI, CECI N'EST PAS UNE DETTE, C'EST DU RACKET !
Démocratie réelle maintenant ! Commission Actions des Indignés de la Bastille
Contact : 06 74 41 10 12

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Press release – H.E. White Paper – a disaster for universities; a government in chaos June 28, 2011

by educationactivistnetworkcontact or 075454588417

The coalition government’s White Paper on H.E. has been released today. Its proposals have been greeted with alarm by academics, students, parents and education activists around the country.

It will force universities into competition with one another, opening them up to rampant privatisation, and put business and profit before the needs of those who work and study in these institutions.

The H.E. White Paper undermines universities’ autonomy and their contribution to free- thinking and critical oppositionality in modern society.

With increased interference from government, on the one hand, and exposure to the caprices of the market on the other, this cynical, morally bankrupt move by the government threatens to dismantle the H.E. system and tender it out to the highest bidder. It shows Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts’ total disregard for social equality and justice.

The core values of universities are being eroded and the Education Activist Network calls on all its members to resist these measures with all their vigour.

As tuition fees rise to up to £9,000 per year, and after Grayling’s private, for-profitNewCollegeof the Humanities has announced fees of £18,000, the White Paper proposes the following :

To cap the number of students receiving government-funded loans
To redefine HEFCE’s role so that it becomes simply the ‘promoter of a competitive system’
To grant degree-awarding powers to new bodies, i.e., private H.E. providers
To interfere in universities’ autonomy and to wrap them in red tape
To stimulate self-interested competition between academics
All this means that:

Universities will be prey to market forces and business interventionism
Students will pay three times more, while academics will have less time for teaching and research
Institutions up and down the country will be at risk of closure
Administrators and support staff will be casualised, put on short-term contracts, and denied a living wage.
Transparency-drives will mean over-regulation and homogenisation
Students will be seen as consumers rather than participants in a university community
Mark Bergfeld, NUS executive, says:

‘Not only are the Tories responsible for the anarchy of the market in Higher Education, they are also responsible for the protests in the streets, the strikes in the schools and occupations of our universities. They have not given students and workers any other option than to resist!’

The H.E. White Paper is part of the government’s plan to erode social justice and equality and the Education Activist Network calls on members to support strike action on 30 June.

Nick Grant, from NUT Ealing, says: ‘This strike is reaching all parts of the education system that unions don’t normally. Academies, other independent and private schools, even those in David Cameron’s own constituency, will be hit by our strike.’

Richard McEwan, from Tower Hamlets UCU, says ‘This generation can expect to be worse off than their parents [...] 30 years of the market have failed us; we need an alternative. The 30th June could be the start.’

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Message from Sally Hunt (UCU) re pensions dispute 30/6/2011

Dear colleague,

On Thursday 30 June, hundreds of thousands of teachers and lecturers will be taking strike action to defend their pensions. I am writing to ask that you join them in taking strike action and attending one of the scores of rallies that will be taking place around the country. You can see a full list of rallies here:

UCU will be joined by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in strike action to defend the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, while civil servants who are members of the PCS union will be taking strike action on the same day in defence of jobs, pay and pensions.

30 June will be one of the biggest days of industrial action for a long time and this is a measure of the widespread anger felt about the attack on public sector pensions and on the TPS.

If the government’s proposals go through, it will mean hard-pressed lecturers in Further and Higher Education working longer, paying greater contributions and losing tens of thousands of pounds over the course of their retirement.

We’re told that our members enjoy ‘gold-plated’ pensions. Yet the average man’s pension in FE is only £10,000, while the average woman’s pension is just over £6000 a year.

We’re told that it’s not fair that public sector workers should have better pensions than those in the private sector. I think that’s a scurrilous argument - that we should all embark on a race to the bottom because of the failure of private sector employers. Everyone has the right to a decent pension scheme in retirement.

We’re told that the government can’t understand why we are striking and not negotiating. Like the NUT and the ATL, we prefer negotiation to action and striking should always be a last resort. We’ve been talking through the TUC for months but now the government has made clear, in public, that it does not intend to compromise on the big issues.

That’s why I believe we need to join our colleagues in the NUT and the ATL in taking strike action next Thursday.

Please support the strike on Thursday and let’s help make this a national day of action across education that no one can ignore.


Sally Hunt
UCU General Secretary

To read our latest leaflet, click here:

To read more on the campaign to defend TPS, click here:

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Teachers' & Lecturers' Strike Vote

(acknowledgements to Martin Francis)

Teachers in England and Wales have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action against government plans to cut their pensions.

Ballot results released this afternoon for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers reflect a high level of anger and resistance.

83% of the ATL voted for a campaign of strikes and the NUT was even higher at 92%.

This is especially significant for the ATL as this is its first ever national strike ballot.

Together with the NUT this result represents the majority of school teachers in England and Wales, in both the state maintained and independent sectors.

Both organisations will now consider these results at meetings in the next two days.

NUT National Executive Member Nick Grant said:

"Unless the government makes an immediate and fundamental reversal of its plans to make us pay more, and work longer to get less pension in retirement, strike action will start with one day's stoppage on 30 June.

We also expect colleagues in the University and College Union and the PCS civil servants to join us on strike that day.

We call on everyone who is angry about the unjustified attacks on public services and its workforce to join us on the day at a march and rally from Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn at 11.30am to go via Whitehall to Westminster for a rally.

This is a fight for the future of properly funded and accountable public services. And it is a fight which is only just beginning."

Monday, 13 June 2011

To London Keep Our NHS Public - Please circulate to others CRUNCH TIME NOW FOR THE NHS

To London supporters of Keep Our NHS Public - Please circulate to others

The government have speeded up the timetable for the Health & social care bill. The report from the so called "listening exercise" will now be today and the government will give their response tomorrow.

The government was forced to retreat and postpone Lansley’s bill in the face of a huge groundswell of nationwide opposition. But now Cameron and Clegg have cobbled together a deal and hope they can limit the damage to the government by pushing through a revised Bill as soon as possible. It is likely that it will go back into parliament before the summer recess.  London KONP has agreed to be ready to call a demonstration at parliament if that happens.

Our NHS is precious and these plans will destroy it
The previewed changes to the bill would alter the wording and the time table, but the plans for commissioning and foundation trusts would still open up the entire health service to the public sector. Health professionals including UNITE, UNISON, RCN and BMA have pointed out that dropping the bill is the only way to safeguard our health service, as have the Labour Party.

How we can step up the pressure to demand the bill is dropped

At 9am Andrew Lansley will open the 'Commissioning 2011'  with over 100 private sponsors
. Leaflet here:

Attached is a helpful briefing plus template letters for MPs and Lords with a list of marginal MPs and how to contact Lords.
Can you phone your MP today? It's quick and easy. Find their name, number, and tips for what to say, here:

Local groups and health workers are planning to highlight the attack on the NHS by joining picket lines and the demonstration 11:30 from Lincoln's Inn Fields
Unite the Resistance organising Rally
Wednesday 22 June 6.30pm
Friends House, Euston Rd, NW1
With Mark Serwotka PCS & Tony Benn

Backed by Unite, Unison and TUC 
Turn this call into real national action calling for the Health Bill to be dropped

KEEP OUR NHS PUBLIC NATIONAL AGMSaturday 25 June 10am - 4pmSouth Camden Community Centre, Ossulston St, NW1

Tuesday 28 June 7pm

Camden Town Hall, Judd St, WC1

The suggestion to formalise a London Keep Our NHS Public group was discussed at the meeting on 24 May. It was agreed to circulate a proposal to local KONP groups that a London group should help coordinate the campaign across London. In addition to open organising meetings, a committee of 2 people from each local group could make any important decisions between meetings. Please bring any comments or suggestions from your KONP group to the meeting on 28 June. 

Meeting 18 June 1.30-4pm
Islington Town Hall, Upper St, N1
With Ken Livingstone organised by Labour Party with GMB and Unison

Further information from or your local Keep Our NHS Public group
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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Vote to support Southampton Binpersons' and Streetcleaners Strike

Dear Colleague

Unite and Unison members in Southampton are engaged in a major dispute about cuts to jobs and services - all are under notice and are engaged in a structured programme of strike action

One small but important way you can help is by upsetting the local apple cart and voting for the workers. (click on the link below to vote)

So please do, and forward this to your friends and workmates

No dispute will be won by opinion polls, but this vote will do no harm and will remind the employers of the broad support that their striking workers

All best wishes, Megan

Megan Dobney
SERTUC Regional Secretary
SERTUC is the TUC in London, the South East and Eastern Region

SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
020 7467 1291
07932 87 38 38

SERTUC's solidarity is greatly appreciated. An immediate and importantaction we ask is that supporters cascade the link below.

Unite members in refuse are out on strike on Wednesday. Our street cleansing members are out on Monday.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

murder of Idar Joel Hernandez Godoy, finance Secretary of the banana workers union

You can email the President of Guatemala:

To the President of Guatemala Álvaro Colom Caballeros

Dear Mr. President,

I am shocked and outraged to learn of the May 26 murder of Idar Joel Hernandez Godoy, finance Secretary of the banana workers union SITRABI. This brutal assassination follows on the April 10 murder of SITRABI officer Oscar Humberto Gonzalez Vasquez, in Nueva Chiriqui, Morales.

I call on your government to act swiftly to ensure that a full and transparent investigation of this latest murder of a union leader is undertaken and the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice. World democratic opinion has repeatedly urged action to end judicial impunity which underpins these anti-union murders. Ending impunity is essential to securing democracy in Guatemala, which must include measures to ensure that unions can carry out their duties in a climate free of violence.

I will closely follow your government’s actions in this regard.

Yours sincerely

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Nye Bevan gets sashed

Cardiff's satue of Nye Bevan acquired a new sash thanks to UK Uncut demo, Sam Coates, Young Greens male co-chair, gives an account of this at