Monday, 24 June 2013

Caroline Lucas announces bill to bring railways back into public ownership

Caroline Lucas announces bill to bring railways back into public ownership

Posted on June 23, 2013 by  | 2 Comments

At the People’s Assembly yesterday, Caroline Lucas announced that, this week, she will introduce a private members’ bill to bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership.

Public ownership of the railways is supported by something like 75% of voters, and could be done in a number of ways, including full renationalisation, and the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union’s preferred model of 1/3 worker ownership/1/3 passenger ownership and 1/3 state ownership.

As the RMT website says:
- Since 1995 the average ticket price has increased by 22% in real terms. Britain has Europe’s highest commuter fares for both day returns and season tickets.
- Privatisation has made the railway more difficult to use. 35% of train users and 64% of non-users don’t understand the rail ticketing system.
- Privatisation has put passengers in the slow lane. Britain lower coverage of electrification and high speed rail compared to similar countries in Europe.
- Privatisation has cost the tax payer more. The cost of running the railway has more than doubled since privatisation from £2.4bn during the five year period 1990/91 – 1994/95 to around 5.4bn per year during 2005 – 2010. It is estimated that privatisation costs the equivalent of £1.2bn a year compared to public ownership.
- Other European countries have better railways and lower fares because on the whole their services are in the public sector. But publicly owned railways are threatened by EU austerity and privatisation. Unless member states object, EU directives will soon come into force that will force countries to tender and break up their rail services.
The People’s Assembly, which the Green Party was among the sponsors of, brought together about 4000 delegates to challenge austerity and discuss the future direction of the movement to defend Britain’s public services.

- See more at:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

"Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 19/6/2013. London.

"Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 19/6/2013. London.

You Tube addresses for each clip below

  1. "Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 20/6/2013. London. Introduction by David Sharkey (Unite, South East Region TUC LBGT network) and report back from Greece by Joseph Healey (Queers Against the Cuts and Greece Solidarity Campaign).

  1. "Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 20/6/2013. London. Report back from Cuba by Gavin Sidthorpe (Unite Branch Secretary and Cuba Solidarity Campaign).

  1. "Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 20/6/2013. London. Questions and discussion.

  1. "Transition to Socialism or Regression to Barbarism", Unite LBGT meeting, 20/6/2013. London. Closing remarks by David Sharkey (Unite, South East Region TUC LBGT network), Joseph Healey (Queers Against the Cuts and Greece Solidarity Campaign) and Gavin Sidthorpe (Unite Branch Secretary and Cuba Solidarity Campaign)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

postal workers say no to privatisation

Ballot result – postal workers say no to privatisation

19th June 2013
The Communication Workers Union can today (Wednesday) announce the result of its consultative ballot which closed yesterday. Ballot papers were distributed to 112,000 postal workers in Royal Mail (not the Post Office or Parcelforce) asking four questions. 
The results, on a 74% turnout, are: 
Q1: Do you oppose the privatisation of Royal Mail? YES 96% Q2: Do you support the boycott of competitors' mail? YES 92%
Q3: Do you support the CWU Pay claim? YES 99% Q4: Do you support the policy of non-cooperation? YES 92% 
Ballot papers were collected, counted and verified by independent scrutineer Popularis. 
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: "No-one has yet asked postal workers what they think about privatisation. Today postal workers have spoken loud and clear with a massive 96% roundly rejecting the government's plans to privatise Royal Mail. The workforce does not support the government or Royal Mail on selling the company. This company is flourishing in public ownership as the recent doubling of profits proves. It's becoming less clear what this policy is about. Why privatise this profitable company? 
"Today's ballot result shows we have resounding support for all the union's policies. This is a strong message to take forward action in each area to improve the working lives of postal workers and protect the services and jobs which customers and communities value." 
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "This ballot result is a damning rejection of the tired old government privatisation policy and the actions of the Royal Mail board in support of this. Postal workers have worked incredibly hard to turn the fortunes of the company around. Royal Mail is not a financial basket case and they know privatisation is only benefitting vested interests. 
"Postal workers are not going to sacrifice their souls for a so-called 10% stake when they know their jobs, pensions and conditions are once again under threat. 
"The government and Royal Mail have completely alienated the workforce and it's time for serious negotiations to find a solution that really can align the interests of workers, customers and the company. If not, then prolonged industrial conflict is inevitable. 

"On a mail boycott, Royal Mail workers have shown they understand the threat to the universal service from unfair competition and the race to the bottom on their own terms and conditions. The way competition is being introduced does not benefit customers, small businesses or postal workers in whatever company they work for."

Monday, 17 June 2013

NUT March for education 25 June

March for education 25 June - London

Assemble at 5pm at Westminster Cathedral Piazza;
March at 5.30pm to the Department for Education; and
Rally at 6.30pm at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW
Speakers: Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, Melissa Benn (writer and campaigner), Owen Jones (journalist), Kenny Frederick (head teacher)
Please wear something green on the day.

Friday, 14 June 2013

open letter from a group of Green Party councillors and activists

Bright Green has been sent this open letter from a group of Green Party councillors and activists regarding the ongoing pay dispute between refuse workers and the council administration. Refuse workers started their strike at 6am on Friday the 14th of June.

As concerned Green Party activists, Councillors and trade unionists we feel we have no option other than to write this letter. This is our response to the news that the Council’s Cityclean workforce intend to take industrial action following the collapse of negotiations relating to proposed changes to their pay and allowances.
We are appalled that the situation has escalated to the point where Council employees are forced to take strike action in order to be heard. We are concerned that as activists from a party which has spent years arguing for workers’ rights that on this occasion the argument is wrong.
We continue to oppose the imposition of pay cuts as per the decision of our Emergency General Meeting in May. Further we will show solidarity with the workers affected by this decision.
We are Green Party members because we believe in its core value of social justice. Imposing a reduction to the take home pay of some of our lowest paid workers runs completely contrary to this.
We fully support the difficult process of trying to equalise the Council’s very complex allowance system so that all staff are treated fairly. That said we deplore the fact that previous Labour and Conservative-led councils failed to fix the problem when they had the opportunity.
However, we cannot accept a situation which attempts to impose a settlement on staff without the agreement of all Unions involved. Negotiations should not pit worker against worker.
We remain concerned that as yet there appears to be no satisfactory negotiated resolution which means that balloting has happened and industrial action will occur from 6AM tomorrow morning for a week.
We ask all sides to urgently find a successful resolution to avert industrial action which we believe could cause all workers, the council and the City considerable pain.
Cllr Mike Jones
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty
Cllr Ruth Buckley
Cllr Sven Rufus
Cllr Amy Kennedy
Cllr Liz Wakefield
Cllr Alex Phillips
Cllr Ben Duncan
Cllr Stephanie Powell

Lisa Murray
Luke Walter
John Medhurst
Valerie Philips
Martin Ashby
Tom Druitt
Carlie Goldsmith
Tammie Cook
Davy Jones
Steve Harris
Ali Ghanimi
Tom Wright
Adam Ramsay

Picket lines operate from 6AM on Friday 14th June till Saturday 21st June.
On Saturday 15th June there will be a demonstration from 11:30AM at the depot.

- See more at:

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

We Need to Talk About Brighton

Ask a Green a few years back whether they’d expect to be in council, and they might not have been too optimistic. Ask them whether they’d think a Green council would ever face strike action, and they may have laughed at you. Yet that’s exactly the situation we face today as a party. A Green administration, albeit a minority one – is facing hundreds of its refuse workers going on strike for a week, starting this Friday, against proposed pay cuts that could see some losing up to £4000 a year, according to the GMB. We are in office, as the saying goes, but seemingly not in power.

Several local parties and individuals - including the local Brighton and Hove Green Party, Caroline Lucas (who has pledged to join the picket lines), and some university branches (including my own) - have spoken out against the bin worker pay cuts in a thus-far shambolic dispute that has seen a noble attempt to equalise pay between male and female staff leading to up to £95 a week income reductions for the (largely male) CityClean workers, idiotic comparisons to the winter of discontent by certain Greens, plausible accusations of potential strike breaking (yes, strike breaking from a Green council), and the outsourcing of the pay proposal decision altogether in order for Greens to claim ‘it wasn’t our decision’. Yet Jason Kitcat seems determined not to budge. It is, frankly a mess.

 Internal discussion about this sorry state of affairs has sadly been minimal at best, actively stifled at worst (as a proposed motion to the next conference illustrates). This will not suffice. The Greens are coming under attack over this from all other sections of the left, and Labour (as well as every other supposedly progressive grouping) will exploit this to its fullest unless we change tack and handle the situation properly. If we don’t tackle the issue head on, the other parties will do it for us. We need to talk about Brighton partly because, frankly, everyone else is. It’s not good enough to say that since the Greens are a federal party ‘it’s up to Brighton’. Brighton Greens - both the local party and our only MP - have spoken. It’s now up to the rest of the party nationally to back them up in this.

We have, bar some very honourable exceptions in the likes of Alex Phillips and others, a rogue council, refusing to cede to the wishes of its local party, its constituents, and (from what I gather) the rest of the party nationally. Sadly GPEX and Natalie Bennett have appeared silent on the issue. Worthy though bringing in a Living Wage and attempting to equalise pay between male and female workers is, a Green council should never cut the pay of some of the least well off. That should be a given. As a party which has the strongest record on workers’ rights in terms of policy, strike busting should never have even been rumoured, let alone an actual possibility. Let’s be clear. The bin workers are by no means living gold-plated lifestyles. A Living Wage is a solid base, but it should be a minimum and something to build on, not to undermine through slashing allowances.

 Though the motives of the Labour-affiliated GMB union aren’t entirely pure, the grassroots members’ reasons for going on strike (on a 96% majority) are. There are some hopeful signs. Leading figures in Brighton & Hove Greens have at last made public statements about the strike action, though still seemingly refusing to back down over the pay cut proposals. The GMB has agreed to re-enter negotiations. And the candidate for the Hanover & Elm Grove by-election, David Gibson, is a solid trade unionist who opposes the measures to equalise pay down instead of up. Nonetheless, myself - and I imagine thousands of other Greens - never thought we’d have to ever be in the position of backing workers striking against our own council. We need to be having a serious discussion about the possibility of setting ‘needs budgets’, and if not, discussing whether we should be in office at all if we are forced to act as a mere smoke-screen for Tory-Lib Dem cuts.

At what point do we start to consider that to stay in office and continue to implement cuts would be to breach our fundamental principles? As the Green Party conference in Brighton approaches (provided it isn’t moved to avoid potential strike ‘embarrassment’, as has been considered), it’s time to get backtracking on the proposed pay cuts, fast - and time to start talking.

 Josiah Mortimer (@josiahmortimer) is a Green Party activist and student based in York.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

ccctu conference 8/6/2013

Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group conference: London June 8 2013 Introductions Suzanne Jeffery (Chair, Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group), Richard Payne (London Metropolitan University UCU and Climate Action Group), Sue Ferns (Director of Communications and Research, Prospect, and Co-chair, Trade Unions Sustainable Development Advisory Committee) How serious is the climate crisis and how could it affect us? A briefing for trade unionists Speaker: Prof Kevin Anderson (Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) Prof Kevin Anderson Part 1 Prof Kevin Anderson Part 2 Prof Kevin Anderson Questions and Discussion WORKSHOP: The melting Arctic: what will it mean? Speaker: Dr Michel Tsamados (Research Associate, Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Reading University) Chair: Jenny Patient (Sheffield Climate Alliance) WORKSHOP: The melting Arctic: what will it mean? Questions and Discussion Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA) Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally Andreas Ytterstad (Chair, Union of Concerned Scientists, Norway) Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally Dr Lara Skinner (Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, USA) Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally Ewa Jasiewicz (No Dash for Gas). & Jonathan Neale (National Steering Group, Campaign against Climate Change) on the climate jobs campaign in South Africa Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally Martin Empson (One Million Climate Jobs Campaign) Second Plenary: Fighting climate change and for climate jobs, internationally & locally questions and discussion Changing the Government’s climate policy Speakers: Joan Walley MP (Chair, House of Commons Environmental Scrutiny Committee), Philip Pearson (TUC Senior Policy Officer for Climate Change and Energy) Chair: Fiona Brookes (Campaigns Organiser, Campaign against Climate Change) Changing the Government’s climate policy: questions and discussion “Question Time” Plenary: Countering austerity - the fight for climate jobs Panellists: Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary PCS), Martin Mayer (National Executive Council, Unite), Suzanne Jeffery (Chair, CACCTU), Jonathan Stevenson (Fuel Poverty Action), Joan Walley MP, Will Duckworth (Deputy Leader, Green Party)Chair: John Stewart (Chair, Campaign against Climate Change)part 1 “Question Time” Plenary: Countering austerity - the fight for climate jobs part 2

Thursday, 6 June 2013

GMB affiliates to Boycott Workfare

Acknowledgements to  The Morning Star and Alan Wheatley
Wednesday 05 June 2013

GMB congress officially affiliated to the Boycott Workfare campaign today, pledging the union to fight back against attacks on welfare.
Delegates noted the existence of several schemes that place benefit claimants on compulsory work placements without pay.
Southern region's Holly Smith denounced the schemes as "exploitation of working class people," pointing out that they do not just attack benefit claimants but workers too.
She warned that free subsidised labour inevitably pushes down wages, terms and conditions and replaces jobs.
Ms Smith praised the "innovative and inspiring" action by groups such as Boycott Workfare.
Unite and PCS unions have already pledged to boycott workfare programmes, delegates noted.
The union also agreed to use its links with Labour to get the party to pledge to abolish all workfare schemes and any form of mandatory unpaid work.
Supporting the motion, southern region's Keir Greenaway said: "Workfare does not work. We need to also force Labour's hand to get them to do something."
London's Vaughan West said: "It's a scandal that the unemployed are forced to work in minimum wage jobs for less than minimum wage.
"We need to expose the government's scam and their demonisation of those on benefits."
Wales and South West region's Paul Hunt described workfare as "Orwellian" and "nothing less than 21st-century slavery."
Conference also condemned moves to cap benefits, the introduction of the bedroom tax and universal credit.
And plans to make universal credit a one-off payment may aid domestic violence and encourage abusive partners to control all the money, Yorkshire & North Derbyshire region's Amanda Burley warned.
North West and Irish region's Kevin Flanagan added that moving benefit claims online represents a massive attack on disabled people and those who either cannot cannot access the internet or find it difficult to use a computer.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.