Monday, 30 January 2012

Graham Petersen, UCU Environment Co-ordinator, has completed a report on his recent trip to Durban.

Dear Colleagues,
Graham Petersen, UCU Environment Co-ordinator, has completed a report on his recent trip to Durban. You can download the report here:
Best regards,

James Taylor
Equality Officer
Equality Unit

+ University and College Union Carlow Street| London | NW1 7LH
' 02077562539 |*| ΓΌ

Sunday, 29 January 2012

On Thursday 9 February Barnet Unison is embarking on its fourth day of strike action

On Thursday 9 February Barnet Unison is embarking on its fourth day of strike action which will mark a sustained campaign of activity to highlight our fight to remain council employees. The UNISON branch is facing its most fundamental challenge in its history with a major privatisation programme e.g.:

·        1 February 130 care workers transfer to the Local Authority Trading company

·        1 April 90 Housing workers transfer to Barnet Homes

·        1 April all of Parking service transfer to NSL

·        1 April all of Legal Service transfer to Harrow Council

All the above would involve approx 2,000 council workers and over £2billion of council business over the next 10 years. Yet more is planned with the Tory Councillors eventual aim of an ‘easy Jet style Council’ with almost no directly employed staff.

Short Informative videos can be viewed at Barnet UNISON’s “Watch it & Share it”

More information from and messages of support to: John Burgess, Branch Secretary., Barnet UNISON , 0208 359

Jet Fuel Drivers Solid

More than 120 Jet fuel drivers, working out of three of the UK's major oil terminals, are on strike ...


acknowledgements to Howard Thorp 

PCS booklet for campaigning

for your information - new PCS booklet for campaigning :

Welfare reform PCS has launched a pamphlet on the need to defend and strengthen the welfare state. The 24-page booklet was unveiled at a public meeting in Brighton – during PCS’s conference in the city. The aim is to arm activists with the information needed to campaign against attacks on benefits – and to put forward ideas for the future of the welfare state.
acknowledgements to Romayne Phoenix

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Coalition of Resistance Spring tour

Coalition of Resistance

Spring tour

It seems the government couldn't be happier right now. There's been 
a slow down in the pensions dispute and Miliband / Balls have 
declared that they wont reverse any spending cut or oppose a public 
sector pay freeze (see article by Lindsey German here) which has led
 to a hike in the polls for the Tories.

However the massive anger from millions of people we saw last year
has not gone away! The 500,000 that demonstrated on March 26th or
the million plus that went on strike in November still wan't to see the 
back of this government.

The unions who rejected the governments offer over pensions are set
to meet to discuss further action. Our job is to get the movement back 
on the streets.

This is why Coalition of Resistance is planning a national speaking tour, 
to discuss these issues and to draw new layers of activists into the 

The tour will run through February - March. We are currently working with
number of anti-cuts groups and Trades Councils to get more of these 
meetings set up across the country.

Dates confirmed so far include:

with Owen Jones, Clare Solomon, George Barrett
7pm, Thursday 9 February
Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House,
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3BD
with Owen Jones, Clare Solomon, George Barrett
7pm, Thursday 9 February
Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House,
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3BD


Banner Theatre – Fight the Cuts
MC: Paul Mackney
7:30pm, Friday 10 February

Library Theatre, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham

with Councilor George Barratt, Karena Johnson, Paul Mackney, Local speakers tba
7:30pm, Thursday 16 February,
Broadway Theatre, Broadway, Barking, IG11 7LS

with James Meadway, Chaired by Romayne Phoenix, others tba
6:30pm, Friday 24 February
Adelphi Hotel, Ranelagh Place  Liverpool, Merseyside L3 5UL
(Green Party Conference fringe meeting - open to all)

with Owen Jones, Lindsey German, Speaker from Greece
7pm Wednesday 14 March
Newcastle Arts Centre (Black Swan)
67 Westgate Road. NE1 1SG

With Owen Jones, others tba
7pm, Thursday 15 March
STUC Centre, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6NG

Please check the website for details of other meetings 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Maite's victory

Maite De La Calva and her lawyer, Emma Norton from Liberty, met Wandsworth Council today and were told that the Council are not going to go ahead with the eviction process they started straight after last summer's riots. Maite and her eight year old daughter were to be evicted because of her son's minor involvement in the Clapham Junction riot.

However other political evictions are threatened and Wandsworth Against Cuts and the anti-eviction campaigners will organise further activities against these.

Maite's victory is a credit to her own courage and honesty faced with a very stressful situation. It was helped by her many supporters on the Doddington Estate, by the work of Wandsworth Against Cuts, Defend Council Housing and Liberty, as well as the support of Battersea & Wandsworth Trades Council, local residents, trade unionists and socialists.

acknowledgements to Martin Francis

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The battle for Brent schools - which side is Labour on? Martin Francis writes

The battle for Brent schools - which side is Labour on?

The battle against academies and free schools has reached a tipping point, author and campaigner Melissa Benn told the AntiAcademies Alliance AGM yesterday. The battle being waged by teachers, parents and governors of Downsides Primary School against enforced conversion to an academy had exposed  the contradiction between Michael Gove's rhetoric of freedom and autonomy and his actual use of coercion.

Benn said that the over-funding of 'good schools' converting to academies or of parents setting up free schools was the government 'empowering the affluent'.  She said that there were three main element's in Gove's programme:

1. A fundamental change in the provision of state education with the academies' links to outside bodies separating them from the local community. Despite government denials the long-term aim, via the 'educational chains' such as E-ACT, ARK and Oasis was privatisation and profit-making. She said that there was no evidence that autonomy itself led to improvement. Where there was improvement it was probably due to increased funding, however that was drying up and the Financial Times recently revealed that the DfE had to bail out eight financially failing academies at the cost of £10m to the tax payer.
2. Gove wants to preserve and expand all forms of current non-LA provision including the expansion of grammar schools via 'satellite' schools and changes in the Admissions Code. This will increase selection and social class and religious segregation.
3. Fundamental changes in the learning culture of schools. She contrasted the broad and creative curriculum and relaxed learning culture of Eton and Wellington public schools which she had visited recently  with the narrowing of the curriculum in academies (depth replacing breadth) and a coercive ethos producing a climate of fear. Academies had in effect 'captured' children for longer hours (often 8.30am until 5pm) and teachers, parents and pupils were often frightened of the management as the school pursued its aim of 'results at all costs'. Anyone arguing against this culture was told that they were supporting failure.
Melissa Benn advised the audience to keep an eye on the US Chartered Schools which served as a model for Gove. We need to argue that some of the most successful schools internationally are non-selective and make the case for increased government funding, small classes, time for teachers to prepare lessons and ongoing teacher assessment rather than SATs.  Subsequent discussion focused on how Ofsted was being used as a political weapon against local authority schools  with the appointment of ARK adviser Sir Michael  Wilshaw as Chief Inspector.

A group of parents from Downside Primary School started by extolling the virtues of a school that did not just concentrate on SAT results but had a broad and enriching curriculum in a child-friendly atmosphere. The children had recently won a national art prize. They were shocked at the enforced academy move by Michael Gove based solely on SAT results but quickly organised, speaking personally to members of the different communities of the school, publicising the issue and using social media to spread the word, They have been lucky in that local MP David Lammy was an ex-pupil of the school and although pro-academy had been against enforcement and had spoken at their public meeting attended by more than 600 people LINK as well as raising the issue in the House of Commons. LINK The parents said that the under-funding of Haringey schools compared with neighbouring boroughs was of fundamental importance and a campaigning on the issue would appeal to parents. There will be a demonstration on Saturday 28th January at noon in support of Downside. I will post details when they are available. It seemed to me clear that primary schools with their strong parent links, good school gate communication opportunities and community ethos will be in a good position to fight academy conversion compared with the more isolated secondary schools.

In my contribution from the floor I drew the meeting's attention to the importance of making the link between cuts and academy conversions. Conversions took money away from the local authority while the cuts in services made by local authorities made arguing  for the benefits of remaining a local authority school harder.In Brent the council in planning to set up a 'public enterprise' provider along the lines of the Cooperative Trust offer, was undermining its own existence.

Alasdair Smith, National Secretary of the AAA, said that Gove was pursuing a full 'for profit' agenda. The shortage of school places was being used as an argument for more 'energetic providers' (private chains) to move in. He felt Downshill was a turning point with Michael Gove worried about the slow down (perhaps because of forecasts that extra money was drying up) in conversions that had taken place since October 2011. He said that he had addressed 50 meetings on the issue over the lasy year but that we now needed a mass movement against Gove's policies.  He praised the Green Party for its consistent anti-academies policy.

The last session was devoted to a discussion on the Labour Party and Academies.  There was recognition of the divergence of local Labour group's attitudes with some fiercely for academies and some militantly against (The Brent Executive has both within its ranks). Stephen Twigg, the Labour shadow had avoided the issue by saying that he did not want to 'get into a hackneyed debate about structures' while Labour was not saying the same thing bout the NHS. Labour needed to live down its pro-academy history and think again, adopting a clear policy against academies and free schools. A Labour councillor said that we should beware of 'friends' such as the Cooperative Trust with their ethical cooperative claims when schools had always been cooperative institutions. Local authorities needed to come out and defend their role rather than be supine in the face of the Coalition's attacks.

Richard Hatcher (joint author of No country for the young: Education from  new Labour to the Coalition- Tufnell Press) said that Labour needed to fight on both structure of education and content of education, support campaigns against academies and free schools , and debate what a Labour government would do with what it will inherit in 2015 if elected. One speaker from Unison said that she had joined the Labour Party in  order to influence their education policy. Other speakers aid there was a need to focus on the huge salaries paid to academy headteachers and chief executives as well as the amount of public money being spent of academies and free schools as a whole.

All these issues are extremely pertinent as Brent Labour has organised a meeting for Labour nominated governors and anti-academy teachers on Wednesday, 7.30pm at the Stonebridge Hub which will be addressed by Melissa Benn.

Melissa Benn, School Wars-The Battle for Britain's Education, Verso

Message to Unite: Green Party are the alternative

17 January 2012

The Green Party urges unions to back the positive Green alternative.

The Guardian article by Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the trade union Unite, has reaffirmed Labour's failure to stand up for ordinary people. Labour's biggest financial supporter has publicly acknowledged their party's abject failure to oppose neoliberal austerity.

All three main parties now seek to protect the vested interests of deregulated financial capitalism - and in doing so they endorse an economic model that squeezes the poorest in society to sustain their broken system.

The public sector pay freeze will strip £2,600 off the wages of a teaching assistant. Pension reforms will see the average pension for a female public sector worker slashed to just £4,000. And cuts to education force students to pay £9000 a year, placing an entire generation in systemic debt.

Opposition to unfair and economically illiterate austerity must now unite around a Green New Deal for Britain. Green Quantitative Easing is needed to act as a direct stimulus to fund the jobs that create long term assets in the real economy. The UK needs a plan to reverse the unemployment that is driving up the welfare bill, and which instead gets people back into work and paying taxes.

The Green Party calls on Trade Unions to back the Green alternative that is now the only voice standing up against an economic system designed to place the tab for 2008 on the UK's public services.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

LEAMINGTON SPA cuts protest Friday, JANUARY 20th

What Cuts do Disabled People Face?
Closure of the Independent Living Fund supporting those with high support needs, proving that the government’s rhetoric of supporting disabled people is as empty as their souls
Movement from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance through punitive and unfair compulsory Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos, a private for-profit company who are declaring those who need 24-hour support and those with terminal cancer ‘fit for work’ in order to meet government targets and reduce disabled peoples’ income drastically
VAT increases and benefit rates linked to CPI not RPI which is likely to cost disabled people an extra £800 per annum.
Cuts to social care budgets, cuts to housing support, cuts to Access to Work programme (helping disabled people with any equipment they might need to compete on an equal basis with non disabled employees), constant attacks on disabled peoples’ integrity by the Tories and others suggesting we’re not really disabled but ‘just pretending’ to get meagre benefits which they’re going to abolish anyway.

At CHRIS WHITE, MP’s office, 43a CLEMENS STREET, OLD TOWN,  CV31 2DP, not far from railway station.
When – Friday, JANUARY 20th, meet outside constituency office at 1pm.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Thursday, 5 January 2012

January screening double bill - 'The Take' and 'New Pioneers'

Thursday, January 12, 2012  6:30pm until 9:00pm

The Birmingham and Midland Institute,, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BS

The January screening is a co-operative extravaganza to launch the UN International Year of Co-operation. It is a double bill guaranteed to challenge and inspire

New Pioneers - A five minute animation telling the story of the co-operative movement from the first co-operative in Rochdale to the multi-billion pound global movement it is today

The Take - Written by Naomi Klein (Author of 'No Logo'), this inspiring film follows a group of factory workers who occupy their old workplace and set the machines going.... will their co-op survive or will the state shut down this emerging workers democracy?

Doors 6.30pm for 7pm

Monday, 2 January 2012

Anti Academies Alliance AGM, on Saturday 14th January 2012.

Annual General Meeting
Saturday 14th
 January, 1pm – 4pm
Chancellors Room, Hugh Parry Hall
19-26 Cartwright Gardens London WC1H 9EF
close to Euston and Kings Cross stations
Introduction by: Melissa Benn, author of School Wars & Alasdair
Smith, national secretary Anti Academies Alliance
There will be sessions on
• Forced academies
• Labour and academies
• ‘Free’ schools
Motions and elections to the National Steering Committee
To register for the conference please register online, return
the form below, or email your details to
Please register me for the Anti Academies Alliance AGM, on Saturday 14th January 2012.
Name     ..................................................................................................................................
Address  ..................................................................................................................................
Postcode .....................................
Phone     ......................................   Email ...............................................................................
Organisation (if any) ..............................................................................................................
●PO Box 14412, Birmingham, B11 9DZ    ●     ●07528 201 697


    • Time
      11:00am until 4:00pm
  • Where
    Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
  • Description
    The PCS Left Unity National Committee invites all activists from all unions to an organising conference on the 7th of January to debate how we can build the campaign to defend our pensions and fight the cuts and prevent any unacceptable “deal” that makes us work longer, pay more and get less.
    CONFIRMED SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Mark Sertwotka PCS, Roger Bannister Unison NEC member (personal capacity), Kevin Courtney NUT, Mark Campbell UCU and John McDonnell MP.
    CHAIRED BY Janice Godrich, PCS President

    This will be an organising conference, not just a debating forum. It is intended to arm activists with the issues so they can go back to their workplaces and into their unions in order to build a campaign that will secure justice on pensions.

    November 30th was the biggest show of strength from Britain’s trade unions in living memory. It shook the coalition government and provided a firm foundation for the escalation of industrial action to defeat the unjustified attack on pensions and to challenge the coalition’s pay freeze, cuts and privatisation programme.

    At the TUC’s Public Sector Liaison Group Mark Serwotka on behalf of PCS argued the TUC should set the date for a further day of nationally coordinated strike action to bring the government into serious negotiations. Although there was some support for this position the TUC general secretary Brendan Barber argued that all the unions should sign up to a so-called “Heads of Agreement”, this means the core issues, on which we took action, working longer, paying more and getting less, are surrendered, just as the government have wanted. Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, argued for acceptance of this “deal”.

    It is almost beyond belief that when the confidence of the movement is at its highest point in decades as a result of November 30th and with an additional 100,000 recruits due to the action such an abject surrender is being considered. Now is the time to set the date, as early as possible in 2012, preferably January, for a further day of nationally coordinated industrial action which can be escalated by bringing even more unions on board including workers, like those in Unilever, fighting to defend private sector pensions.

    To cover costs there will be a registration fee of £5 for waged delegates.