Category: Strictly Local – Issues And Campaigns


VOAG-Logo-(Brick)5-transparThe VOAG joined the Surrey United Anti-Capitalist Students Society (SUAC) For Freshers Fair 2013, at the University Of Surrey. 

One small step for the proletarian revolution, one giant leap for the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists, as the SUAC Students Society Romps home with 72 new members recruited at this years Surrey University Freshers Fair.

The VOAG salutes and congratulates those (they know who they are) who made this year’s Freshers Fair the most successful freshers fair ever. And not a swappy in sight!

The stool looked amazing, featuring picture boards of recent activities, a looping slide show, as well as various flyers. Props to all those that helped!    

SUAC is the only left group on campus. The SWP have tried in past years to start a student group, but to-date have always failed to get enough members to establish themselves. This year the SWP stayed a home.

Whilst the Lib-dems and Tories have abandoned Surrey University,  there is, on paper, a Labour Club. It keeps its head well low, never campaigns and doesn’t ever meet. The Labour Club appears out of thin air every Freshers Fair, and then hibernates until the next. 

The Green Party managed to arrange a stool, and sent two elderly, woolly jumper types. The VOAG ventured over to the lonely couple, but was scared off, fearful of frostbite, The Socialist Fight magazine the VOAG was carrying, alerted them that the VOAG was outside their target audience, and an icy chill deended on their stall.

The nearest thing to politics in the University of Surrey, outside the SUAC, is the Go Green Society. The VOAG went over to their Freshers Fair stall out of curiosity and to investigate if there were any issues of mutual interest that we might work together on.

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Jeremy HuntAN UPDATE: JOIN THE HUNT FOR HUNT! 
The NHS is under attack!

Up to 100 jobs cuts are planned at Royal Surrey Hospital including front line staff. There are also planned cuts to Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

Since taking over as secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt has lost 7,000 nurses, handed billions of our health pounds to his private sector friends, ‘downgraded’ a very successful London hospital and has kept out of sight as other hospitals and NHS services close units and sell off services. 

WE MUST FIGHT THIS!
Together, communities can stop our services from being broken up. The NHS belongs to all of us. Join the campaign, make sure it stays that way!  As many of you will know Unite, together with the Save Lewisham Hospital  Campaign, are planning a search in Surrey South West for local MP and Secretary of State for health Jeremy Hunt which is leading the against on the NHS.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:
Meeting Place: The Hart Road, opposite, Waitrose Car Park,Farnham at 12:15- 12:30.
There we will split up into those who wish to leaflet and petition in the town centre and those who wish to canvass door to door and get petitions signed. Street theatre is being arranged to draw attention. Kids packs and balloons are being arranged to provide a family friendly environment. The two groups will reassemble at 3 pm for a short march and rally outside Conservative Association Offices.

Coaches are leaving from Lewisham, Whittington, Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Kingston and St Helier Hospital Campaigns. Seat reservations are available by calling 07846008703Coaches

FOR MORE INFO:
http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/events/huntthehuntandsaveournhs/
http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/the-hunt-for-hunt/

OR JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP:
https://www.facebook.com/events/500290676696673/pr

EMAIL:
saveournhs@unitetheunion.org

Save Our Schools – Academies Are Asset Stripping Our Schools.

Mumsnet.com, May, 2013
Before the election councils in England held the title deeds to schools and land valued at over £2.5bn. But most people don’t know the very fine print of the academies bill and what it means. 

1. The title deeds of the school and the land are transferred to a private company when the school becomes an academy.

2. Michael Gove borrows £25,000 to pay the legal fees for the private companies to ensure the title deeds are transferred from the council (us taxpayers who paid to build the schools) – to these private companies).

So far £1billion of title deeds for schools has been transferred from taxpayers – with Michael Gove increasing the deficit by £481,750,000 – just for legal fees to transfer ownership of the schools from councils to private companies.

So who has the title deeds now:
Tory party member Philip Harris has his hands on £millions worth of title deeds. Philip Harris made donations to David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party. He is considered to be one of his personal friends.

Stanley Fink, another friend of Cameron has donated £2.62m to the Conservative Party. David Cameron made Fink a Lord as soon as he came to power, and has since made him Tory Party Treasurer and handed his company £millions title deeds for schools.

And today David Cameron has told us, as well as changing the law to transfer state assets to Tory Party members (and I thought only China did that) – now he is changing the laws to allow them to start selling the Land.

Just so you know – Stanley Fink – his company states in their accounts – any extra money – his company has a policy to transfer the funds to the Cayman Islands – via stockbrokers that Stanley Fink just happens to be on the board of.

Now if I remember correctly the directors of southern cross did the same thing with care homes – selling them off – the money disappears offshore, the company goes bust and pensioners are left high and dry (with taxpayers expected to step in).

Well Cameron has just announced Tory Party members who have their hands on the title deeds for our schools and school land can start doing the same thing. And just to be clear – Stanley Fink’s company accounts for the schools also state – if Stanley Fink’s company controlling the schools, the school budgets and the title deeds goes bust – Stanley Fink (Tory Party treasurer on the Times rich list) only has to pay £10.

Academies are not about education, they are about asset stripping, and parents and children will find (just like the pensioners who were left without facilities due to the directors of Southern Cross) private companies selling off the assets and disappearing in to the sunset.

Do Michael Gove and David Cameron shout from the rooftops that they are spending £25,000 per school to cover legal fees to transfer the title deeds to Tory Party members – no I wonder why not. – Could it be they don’t want parents to know the real intentions of the academies bill? It’s not about education, it’s about asset stripping by Tory Party members – thanks to David Cameron, Michael Gove, every Tory MP and every Liberal MP.

These are your schools – they do not belong to the Tory Party (well they do now). Ask Michael Gove if your council gets the money when they sell off school land. Ask Stanley Fink (ARK SCHOOLS) – will this Tory Party treasurer be selling playing fields and as his accounts state, the money be transferred to the Cayman Islands (with his stockbrokers taking a cut along the way). Serious questions – £1bn worth of assets stripped – £half billion in legal fees to pay for it (which we the taxpayers must pay back as Gove had to borrow the money).

A study of ARK accounts for the 8 schools they controlled in 2010 showed Stanley Fink and the other directors of Ark Schools under spent the education budget by 7%. The money that Stanley Fink was given to educate children which he chose not to spend, went to the Cayman Islands via his stockbrokers – to the Ark Cayman Island Fund. In its 2010 accounts Ark reported an operational surplus of £1.8 million, and in 2009 it was £3.6 million.

We paid for our schools and paid for the land. Stanley Fink did not pay 1 penny for any of the schools he holds the title deeds for. Stanley Fink did not pay 1 penny for the playing fields he is now selling. Just because Cameron and Gove changed the law does not make it legal or right. If Parents don’t stand up now and demand these schools are transferred back to councils, like Southern Cross, there will have no schools and no land.

And who is Stanley Fink selling the land to and how much for? Where does the money go? Schools are not assets for stripping – schools are there to educate. But David Cameron, Philip Harris and Stanley Fink all believe it’s not education – its assets for selling.

Save our schools – save our school land – demand the title deeds back into the safe hands of councils – after all they ran schools for years without selling the land, and the title deeds were kept in trust for you. And councils have never transferred education funds to the Cayman Islands via Stockbrokers they own, which is exactly why only democratically elected; accountable councillors can be trusted with the title deeds for our schools.Visit Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on Facebook

Hands Off Our NHS


The Crimes Of Jeremy Hunt  – Criminal & Social Saboteur 

Jeremy Hunt and The Murdoch Scandal
As Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt hid an Ofcom report recommending that Murdoch’s £7.5bn takeover of BSkyB be referred to the monopolies commission. Following an investigation by MP Tom Watson, Hunt was later found to have misled parliament when he denied having formal meetings with Murdoch’s News Corp executives.

Later In 2010, ‘The Hunt’ managed to wriggle out of trouble again when it was found that he failed to declare thousands of pounds of donations from BskyB, media and arts companies the previous year.

The ‘Hunt’ faced demands for his resignation in 2012, when documents submitted to the Levingson enquiry in to telephone hacking, revealed that his office was secretly passing information to Murdoch during his bid to take over BskyB.  It was described by one MP as “a strait forward criminal offence”.

Jeremy Hunt and The Abortion Debate
After only a month as Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt told the Times in October 2012 that he backs halving the legal time limit for women to have abortions, from 24 weeks to 12. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said it was “insulting to women” and they were “speechless”.

Selling the NHS – The Crime Of The Century
The Hunt’s views on the NHS were exposed  in the Guardian last September, when it reported that Hunt attempted to have scenes celebrating the National Health Service removed from the Olympics opening ceremony. MP Andy Burnham told the commons “it proved Hunt didn’t support the core values of the NHS”. In the run up to privatisation, hospitals across the country have already been forced to save £20bn.

Jeremy Hunt’s Health and Social Care Act is set to reorganise the NHS so that it is little more than a logo on contracted out services. The regulations – made under Section 75 of the Health & Social Care Act 2012 – puts competition at the heart of the NHS and brings in privatisation on an unprecedented scale. Regulations will force commissioners to open up to private sector competition any part of the NHS that companies are interested in.

Local health decision makers will be able to do little or nothing to protect local NHS hospitals which will be starved of funds as a result of losing out to private providers. The regulations require all NHS services to be put out to competition “unless the commissioners can prove there is only one provider”.

Lord Philip Hunt, in the House of Lords said: “Parliament was assured that clinicians would be under no legal obligation to create new markets; however these regulations being debated in Parliament provide no such re-assurance”.

Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said recently: “The NHS has delivered what no other health service has managed: universal, accessible, high quality care at a cost far less than comparable health services. These regulations remove the legal framework for a universal, publically provided and managed, democratically accountable health service.”

Crimes Against Surrey
Meanwhile here in Surrey two hospitals out of four are set to close their A&E and maternity departments. The Sutton Guardian reported in January that either St Helier, Epsom, Kingston or Croydon University Hospital will lose key departments. Kingston has already seen A&E waiting times increase following spending cuts last year, the Surrey Comet reported in February.

Lewisham Hospital, a hospital that makes a surplus is to Cut A&E, maternity, children’s and intensive care services. Patients will have to be transported to other hospitals because there will no longer be acute provision

The Surrey Advertiser reported in February that although the hospital was not in debt and had been making a surplus over the last few years, “a 100 jobs are about to go at the Royal Surrey Hospital”.  Who remembers the facical 2005 general election? When Ann Milton, our local MP stood as “Conservatives: Stop The Hospital Cuts”. One wonders where she is now.

Jeremy Hunt has nothing but contempt for us all – even fellow Tories. It was reported that he endorsed Conservative co-chairman Lord Feldman’s characterisation of Tory ‘grass roots’ activists as “Swivel-eyed loons”, describing Lord Feldman as a man of great honour.

Even on the roads Hunt thinks there’s one rule for us and another rule for him. As the Daily Mail found when it snapped Hunt riding through red lights and one way streets last year.

On Friday 24th May, The VOAG, together with the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists and the Kingston branch of the GMB union, hunted “the Hunt” down at Surrey University. He was there to deliver a speech to students. Unfortunately for him, the welcome he received was not quite the one he had expected. More people came to protest than came to hear his bull-shit.


Friday’s Hunt the Hunt was just a warm up for the main event. On Saturday June 15th, we’ll be hunting the Hunt again, this time in Farnham, his own constituency. There are coaches arranged from London. Hospital campaigns at Ealing, Hammersmith & Charing Cross, Kingston, and Whittington hospitals are all arranging coaches. Campaigners from Hackney, King George and Central Middlesex will also be attending the event, together with campaigners from around Surrey and Hampshire. Join the Facebook event page for more info and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/500290676696673/

Call 07846008703 or email: huntforhunt2013@gmail.comVoice Of Anti-Capitalism In Guildford

Voag-Logo-9After a year of silence The VOAG is back!

Bringing news and scurrilous stories

from Surrey and Beyond.

Campaigning for a better society.

&

Supporting

Surrey United Anti Capitalists
Save Our Services In Surrey
Socialist Fight Group

 Join The VOAG Facebook group to join the discussion or leave comments

Even fellow Tories distance themselves from this “crazy fascist”

Yesterday, The VOAG re-published a story about John Butcher, a Conservative Surrey County Councillor for Cobham ward. He has worked out a brilliant scheme for pushing up property values in the county – by driving out everyone who is fat, takes recreational drugs, gorges on junk food or has ‘self-inflicted’ health problems of any kind. As a member of the council’s health committee, he has sent an email to staff suggesting a two-speed NHS in which “patients with self-inflicted morbidity, (mainly smoking, alcohol, narcotics or obesity) or an injury through ‘dangerous activities’ are placed in a much slower-moving queue”. https://suacs.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/john-butcher-surrey-heath-tory-councillor-health-committee-nhs
In a response to the Elmbridge Guardian, which first broke the story, John Butcher added: “If sports can ban performance-enhancing drug use, then entertainment etc. should ban narcotics and alcohol abuse”.

“Everyone in, or aspiring to, a position of public responsibility and everyone in a position to influence the public, including entertainers etc, should be asked to sign a voluntary pledge not to take illegal narcotics or consume excessive alcohol, or drive when so affected”.

“Anyone who fails to sign that pledge, or who signs it and breaches it, should be excluded from positions of public responsibility and influence. All public organisations, including regulated broadcasters etc, should agree to impose this exclusion”.

Fellow Councillor, Karen Randolph was also quoted in the paper. She  said: “The views expressed by Councillor Butcher challenge the very credibility of Surrey County Council’s Health Overview Scrutiny Committee, of which he is a member. It is highly disturbing that the Conservative administration at SCC has deemed it appropriate to appoint to this committee a councillor who clearly does not support the NHS and who holds such extraordinary views about the responsibilities of the state to its citizens.”

Cllr John Butcher also sits on Elbridge Borough Council, where he lists his chief concerns as “Challenging wishy-washiness” and “nebulous do-goodery”.

Simon Cook, a Conservative councillor in Cullingworth, Yorkshire called John Butcher “a real deal health fascist” and blogged yesterday: “So if you smoke, drink, drive fast cars round a track or climb rocks (not sure whether Cllr Butcher’s ‘dangerous activities’ includes horse riding and playing rugby) you’ll be made to wait longer in the hope that you’ll move away from Surrey. Indeed, it seems that Cllr Butcher thinks that, by doing this, all these people with “self-inflicted” illnesses will move to places where the authorities believe in equal treatment”.

The real question is: How would John butcher’s proposals push up house prices in Surrey, and to whose benefit would it be? John Butcher’s argument is that people with illnesses will be repulsed from Surrey, whilst “healthy people will be attracted to the better healthcare that Surrey could afford, having been freed from the burden of treating sick people”.

What the councillor is really saying is drive out the poor and less affluent from Surrey (the sick, disabled, smokers obese et al, who are by-and large the less well off) to make lebensraum for his wealthy friends. Bring on the concentration camps.

But let’s give the councillor a chance. Let’s take his comments on face value. There are 1.08 million residents in Surrey. According to Surrey County Council, one in four adults in Surrey are smokers. Surrey NHS estimates there are 455,000 “hazardous”, “harmful” or “binge drinkers” in Surrey. http://www.surreydaat.org.uk/pdf/Alcohol%20Needs%20Assessment.pdf

The Obesity rate in Surrey, lower than the national average, is estimated by Surrey PCT to be at 20% of the population. http://www.guildford.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=569&p=0 As for drugs use, there are no statistics for Surrey, but in the South East, according to the ONS, 8.6% of the adult population took illegal drugs last year, with 3.3% of the population described as frequent drug users. http://data.gov.uk

The councillor extended his attack on the unfit and unwell to people engaged in “risky past-times and sports”. It’s plainly obvious that this is just a smoke screen to hide his real agenda, which is to chase the less affluent, who have a propensity to be less fit, out of Surrey. I can’t believe the Councillor is thinking of his horse riding, rugby playing chums when he talks of “dangerous sports”. However, taking Cllr Butcher at his word again, we have to take account of horse riding, rugby, perhaps even motor cycling, and a host of other recreational pass-times that might be considered potentially hazardous.      

For example, according to Surrey County Council’s 2007 Rights Of Way report, there are 20,000 horses in Surrey. A 1998 Gallop poll found 6% of Surrey residents had gone horse riding in that year. http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/176058/ROWIP-main-text.pdf

Where’s all this going, what’s the point of all these statistics? Well, by my reckoning, if the Councillor had his way, they’d be no-one left in Surrey. His policy certainly wouldn’t produce the rise in property prices that he and his chums so desire.     

As an aside to these arguments; according to the ONS, Excise duty & VAT raised by the UK Drinks industry amounts to £22bn annually, whilst alcohol consumption costs the nation, through the health service, crime, lost production etc £20bn.

Estimates of the costs to the NHS from smoking varies greatly, one study estimated an annual cost of £610m. Another study (Allender, S- The burden of smoking-related ill health in the UK) estimates the cost to be £2.7bn – whilst the Centre for Health Economics estimates the cost to be between £1.4bn and £1.7bn.  According to the HMRC (Revenue & Customs) Tobacco tax revenue last year amounted to £12.1bn.

Another argument, developed by the University of Public Health, Rotterdam indicates that smoking may even save the NHS money. Their study shows that since smokers on average die younger, they do not incur the costs of a lengthy old age or the costly diseases that are associated with it. Their study concluded that the average health cost of a non-smoker was $83,400 whilst the average health cost of a smoker was $72,600.

These fiscal arguments, which clearly show the tax payer incurs no cost from smoking and alcohol consumption, can be equally applied to the sporting activities Cllr Butcher appears so against. In each and every case revenue exceeds the costs.

It’s not the first time John Butcher has hit the local headlines. A council employee lodged an official complaint against him in February 2010.

Council proceedings start with a prayer, during which no one is allowed to enter or leave the council chambers. Cllr Butcher arrived late to the 2010 February council meeting- and finding that prayers had already begun, and the door to the chambers closed and guarded by an attendant- he lost his temper. He aggressively forced his way in to the chambers, thrusting the door in to the face of the attendant, injuring him and bruising his face.

An eye-witness told the Surrey Advertiser: “During prayers I became aware of someone attempting to gain entry to the council chamber, through the door being ‘guarded’ [by the officer], using his body to keep the door shut. It quickly became apparent that this someone had not been deterred by the efforts and they again tried to enter the chamber in a more forceful manner. I then recall [the officer] turning his head towards the door as if to indicate through the frosted glass to the person on the other side that prayers were still ongoing. A very short time afterwards I recall hearing something of a thud as the door hit [the officer] on the side of the head and I witnessed John Butcher stumbling/forcing his way into the chamber through the partially opened door.”

After the incident John Butcher refused to apologise to the attendant and denied injuring him, even though there was a council chamber full of witnesses.

Not only are John Butcher’s views abhorrent, but as I hope I’ve shown, they don’t even make sense or stand up to any kind of reasoning. Rather than exile the less-well-off, the sick and the disabled from Surrey, it’s time to kick John Butcher out of Surrey. Do not re-elect John Butcher to Surrey County Council or Elmbridge Borough Council.
John Butcher
18 Bramble Rise
Cobham Surrey
KT11 2HP
Tel: 07899 891685
jbutcher@elmbridge.gov.uk

Surrey County Council Health Committee Tory Councillor, John Butcher: “Force seriously ill people out of Surrey to push up house prices”

From Political Scrapbook blog -June 1st, 2012.
A Tory councillor on Surrey’s health committee has called for seriously ill people to be forced out of the county. John Butcher has suggested those with “self-inflicted morbidity” should be “encouraged” to “move away from Surrey” – in the name of pushing up house prices.

Butcher wants groups such as smokers —  referred to as the “self-inflicted” — to be offered slower NHS treatment so that they will be forced to move: “This factor would attract more ‘other’ patients to come to live in Surrey – and that would push up house prices here.”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more sick, he ventures that this would benefit the Tories in elections: “any political party that seeks to pander to the needs of the self-inflicted unhealthy, and to win their votes, will suffer twofold … mortality will ensure that its voters will be much fewer in number than the ‘others’”

 Councillor Butcher’s email, which went round Surrey Council like wildfire before being leaked, is reproduced in full below:

1 Please pass on my apology for absence from the Surrey HOSC meeting on 24 May 2012, but I have a hospital appointment that day, and it has already been postponed once.

2 Because of the economic catastrophe facing the capitalist world, the NHS, that is a Marxist organisation, is bound to fail – like Greece.

The government’s efforts to ‘improve’ it are merely a postponement of that failure, which will arise from ever-increasing demand for, and the unit costs of, healthcare and the ever-decreasing national wealth available to afford those demands and costs, through taxation or otherwise.

Politicians who support the diversion of increasingly scarce fiscal resources into propping up the NHS, without taking measures to curb demand, not only accelerate its eventual demise but allow more important demands on the public purse to go unmet, with serious adverse consequences to the people. It will be the people who suffer from the collapse of the NHS – but they will have only themselves to blame – for voting in politicians who promise to improve the NHS regardless of other factors.

3 One way of saving the NHS is to encourage patients to take very much more care of themselves, with penalties on those who won’t do that. If the NHS in Surrey were to be run on the basis that patients with self-inflicted morbidity (mainly – smoking, alcohol, narcotics, obesity) and injury (dangerous activities) are, following due warning, placed in a much slower-moving queue for healthcare than ‘other’ patients, this would encourage the self-inflicted to move away from Surrey, to areas where there is no differentiation between patients on the grounds of their contribution towards their condition.

And it would deter the self-inflicted from coming to live in Surrey. Over time, that would result in the healthcare for the ‘other’ patients in Surrey being significantly better than the average national level for all patients, as the resources deployed to the self-inflicted would be very much reduced.

This factor would attract more ‘other’ patients to come to live in Surrey – and that would push up house prices here – assuming that planning controls remain similar to now.

4 Eventually the self-inflicted patients would end up living in ‘equality’ areas that are dominated by politicians who pander to their needs, thus driving more ‘other’ patients out of those areas, as healthcare there will be badly affected by the over-dominance of the self-inflicted.

These ‘other’ patients would move into areas, such as, hopefully, Surrey, where ‘other’ patients are not nearly so adversely affected. Eventually the country will be sharply divided into two types of area:

4.1 the ‘equality’ ones, where the self-inflicted unhealthy are treated the same as all patients, and 4.2 the ‘others’, such as, hopefully, Surrey.

Average life expectancy will be substantially lower (by, say, 20 years) in the ‘equality’ areas than in the ‘others’. This may mean that ‘other’ patients moving out of ‘equality’ areas may have to live in a less desirable dwelling, because of house price differentials, but that is a trade-off, that they can choose, with healthcare differentials between the two types of area.

Such house price differentials already apply for schooling, with houses on one side of a catchment boundary being worth a lot more than houses on the other side of it.

Indeed, the perception that the gap in those prices between those two types of healthcare area will grow substantially will encourage the ‘other’ patients in those ‘equality’ areas to move out of them sooner, lest they see their dwelling there becoming worthless.

5 Thus, any political party that seeks to pander to the needs of the self-inflicted unhealthy, and to win their votes, will suffer twofold:

5.1 mortality will ensure that its voters will be much fewer in number than the ‘others’, and

5.2 by concentrating its voters into particular areas, that party will never be able to win enough seats to dominate Parliament.
Regards John Butcher.
18 Bramble Rise
Cobham
Surrey
KT11 2HP
jvcbutcher@btinternet.com
Tel: 07899 891685

The VOAG joined the Kingston Anti-Cuts Group for a demonstration outside Kingston Council’s Budget meeting at the Guildhall, Wednesday, 29th February.

 The council approved cuts of over £8.6million with another £4.4million planned for next year and a further £12 million the year after. They follow cuts of over £15million last year.

Kingston Council has already made a 100 redundancies, cuts to  children’s services and £1.4million cuts to mental health facilities. At the same time the council has spent £20,000 on car park “rebranding”. A further 600 jobs are to be lost at Kingston hospital, together with £6million cuts to adult social care and services for children with Special Educational Needs. Another £500,000 is to be cut from “One Kingston” projects.

Kingston TUC, the CWU and GMB unions, the Communist Party, Kingston Anti Cuts Group, Kingston SWP, the Socialist Party, Surrey Unison, the IWW and Kingston Labour Party were represented in the 60 strong demonstration.

The demonstration was joined by the Christian Peoples Alliance, who held a candle-lit vigil and said prayers for “those less fortunate than themselves” (us), before taking off in their brand new cars.

As the Tory and Lib-Dem councillors arrived for the meeting, they were met with chants directed at the Tory council leader: “Derek Osbourne get out, we know what you’re all about- cuts, job losses, money for the bosses”. Campaigners also shouted “Save our services- stop the cuts!” and gave out leaflets to passers-by.

Kit Leary from Surrey County Unison gave a spontaneous speech to the demonstration assembled on the steps of the Guildhall, he said: “With all these job losses, it’s a time when we need our public services more than ever.” When the meeting was due to start the campaigners joined the councillors in the warmth of the Guildhall.One fat balding Tory, councillor Priyen Patel, spoke of the council becoming a “commissioning council”. This is Tory speak for privatising services, where-by public services, presently provided direct by the council, are bought, or commissioned from private companies who profiteer from the tax-payer. He spoke of boosting charities rather than providing services.

Campaigners and residents in the public gallery were outraged. They shouted “They’re not ‘savings’ they’re CUTS, call them what they are” and chanted “Shame on you!”. The mayor Councillor Patrick Codd was forced to adjourn the meeting whilst half the public gallery were escorted out of the meeting under a threat of arrest. They chanted “shame on you” and “why don’t you stand up for the people you represent?” Some of the protesters broke away from their escort to run back into the meeting via another door to continue their berating.

The demonstration attracted a very positive reaction in the local press and won some great publicity for the Kingston Anti Cuts campaign. Once again the Super-Swappies (SWP) of Kingston, who organised the event, show the rest of us how it’s done. Some of those present asked after the South London Anti Capitalists and wondered why they hadn’t come out to support the demonstration. Well, the VOAG thinks the clue is in the acronym.

The VOAG (Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford) joined the Kingston SWP for a  demonstration against Workfare. Kingston Town Centre, February 22nd, 2012.

Below is a quick Powerpoint report on the evenings events together with a few pictures.
Please click on the picture below.For more on this story, click: https://suacs.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/workfare-demo-kingston/

The next National Day Of Action aginst Workfare will be on Saturday, March 3rd. Protest outside BHS, Oxford Street from 11.30.  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

For more about Workfare and tips on how to avoid being trapped in to it by the Job Center, go to  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Tesco is boosting it’s £4 billion profits by using the slave labour provided by the Government’s ‘Workfare’ schemes. Take the fight against Tesco into the streets of Kingston on the National Day of Action against Tesco. Wednesday, 22nd, February. 5:30pm until 6:30pm, Kingston Station

From Corporate Watch
The campaign against workfare has claimed some major successes over the last month, with Sainsburys, Waterstones and TK Maxx bowing to pressure and pulling out of some (though not all) of the government’s workfare programmes. Other companies now face a dilemma: do they also withdraw to avoid further bad publicity, or do they continue to enjoy the free labour that workfare brings? Corporate Watch finds the benefits of workfare for retailers such as Asda and Argos make it difficult to say no to.

Over the Christmas period for example, the government’s eagerness to send unemployed people on unpaid placements meant stores did not need to go to the trouble of hiring and paying temporary workers as they would normally. Joe Wilson, a 21 year old on Jobseekers Allowance, worked a four-day week, unpaid, for six weeks from the middle of November at the Asda superstore in Harrogate, Yorkshire.He told Corporate Watch: “There were about 15 of us on placements. The manager said they had overspent on stocking Christmas stuff so they’d got people in on placements [to save money]. The paid staff told us they were being asked to leave before they’d ended their shift as we could do the work. I worked Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. They arranged it so everyone came in those days.”

 His Jobcentre had said that if he didn’t attend the placement his benefits could be stopped: “The Jobcentre had got a group of us in for CV writing training. It was really obvious stuff – don’t use a crayon and so on. When we were there they said some people had come to speak to us about a work experience programme. Then a few days later I got a letter saying that, as I’d expressed an interest they’d be organising a work placement. The letter said if I didn’t go they’d stop my JSA. I’d never said I wanted to do a placement in Asda.”

A spokesperson at Asda’s head office told Corporate Watch that the company hadn’t received any reports of workfare placements replacing paid staff and they would “investigate further,” adding the placements were “not designed to substitute colleague roles”. Despite several follow-up calls and emails, we have not heard anything since.

Argos: discount products, discount labour
A claimant in Bristol told Corporate Watch how paid Christmas work in the Argos store in the Galleries shopping centre disappeared when the company realised it could get people in for nothing on workfare placements. ‘Jason’, who wishes to remain anonymous, said Seetec, the ‘provider’ company that he was sent to by the Jobcentre, had arranged an interview for him and 13 others for temporary work. They were not hired because the store instead took people on unpaid placements organised by Prospect, another employment provider company, which ironically has its Bristol office in the same building as Seetec.

Argos told Corporate Watch that its stores had “liaised over our peak Christmas trading period with local job centres to offer working opportunities to job seekers through initiatives called work placements or work trial”. The retailer went on to say it is currently assessing whether its trials over the Christmas period will continue and that it “endeavoured to offer permanent roles to young people” after the placements. Corporate Watch asked how many permanent roles had been offered but we have not received a reply. Prospect did not reply to any of our enquiries.

You’re supposed to find me a job, not turn me into a slave!
Workfare does not only replace paid work at Christmas. ‘Chris’ was sent to do a three month placement in Booker Wholesale in Bath. He told Corporate Watch that when the placement commenced the manager said that if he worked hard he would get a job, but he soon found out that this was unlikely:

“I asked the manager about jobs and he said: ‘keep working as you are and you will be fine’. The turning point came for me about two months in, when two part-time employees were laid off for stealing some alcohol. I thought there would be a job for me but they hired the brother of an employee already working there. I went to see the manager and he said that there were no positions. He suggested I could continue doing four days a week unpaid. I left in disgust and took my last two days off. They had the nerve to say: ‘what if we are counting on you to be there?’ Then hire me! You’re supposed to help me find a job, not turn me into a slave.”

Paid employment ‘unlikely’
Workfare is becoming such a popular way for retailers to staff their stores that they are finding it hard to keep count of how many workfare staff they have. A spokesperson for entertainment retailer HMV told Corporate Watch its placements are organised on “a more localised basis” so it is difficult to “fully track all the placements in place across the chain at any one time.” But at least the company is less coy than Argos and Booker about the likelihood these placements will lead to paid work, admitting: “it’s unlikely that [a] large number will go on to achieve full time paid employment with the company.”

Have you been sent on an unpaid work placement or do you know someone who has? Contact Corporate Watch on 02074260005 or contact corporatewatch.org

National Day of Action against Tesco.
Wednesday 22nd, February
5:30pm until 6:30pm Kingston Station
Wood Street, KT1 1TG London, United Kingdom