Tag Archive: pledge


SEVEN MORE REASONS WHY WE ALL SHOULD BE MARCHING FOR THE ALTERNATIVE ON MARCH 26TH

Disabled Housing Benefit Slashed
Government figures show about 450,000 disabled people will see their incomes cut under one of the changes planned to housing benefit. From April 2013, housing benefit for working age people in social rented homes will be linked to the size of property councils ‘believe they need’.

An assessment from the Department for Work and Pensions shows the change will leave 450,000 disabled people an average of £13 a week worse off. Many disabled people will have to leave their current home. The government will not even guarantee an alternative.

The government’s Communities Department has announced a review of councils’ statutory duties. Under the reviews proposals, councils would be allowed to decide not to provide any services to disabled people, including residential care and respite for families and carers. This is a very real threat to the lives, security and future of disabled people.

Disability Alliance policy director Neil Coyle said: “We’ve been contacted by people who’ve said that if they lose the kind of support that helps them get to work for example, if they’re no longer entitled to that support, they’ll lose the ability to be independent”.

The Great Pensions Robbery
The Hutton Report into pensions was published on 11th March. Hutton wants to raise the retirement age to 66 by 2020. Hutton claims that retiring early, say at 55, is no longer acceptable when people are living longer.

Hutton wants to do away with “generous final salary” pension schemes. Instead they will be set at the average salary across a person’s career. Thirdly, Hutton says workers should up their contribution to the pension scheme from 6.4% to 9.4%: i.e. a 3% pay cut or, with inflation running at over 5%, an 8% real pay cut. Scandalously, many unions have already agreed to this increase.

There isn’t anything generous about public sector pensions. The average pension is about £4,200 a year. The Coalition has already linked pension increases to the lower, CPI rate of inflation, so they will depreciate – by as much as £10,000 over the average retirement. http://www.workerspower.com/index.php?id=47,2797,0,0,1,0

As Unemployment Rises – Job Centre Cuts
Around 7, 000 staff in Jobcentre Plus (JCP) call centres have begun voting this week in a strike ballot over intolerable working conditions. The ballot widens a dispute which led to two days of strike action in January by more than 2, 000 workers in the seven newest contact centres, who have been forcibly moved from processing benefit claims to handling enquiries by phone.

The union says managers have “an obsession” with hitting call centre targets at the expense of providing a good quality public service. The oppressive conditions are resulting in high levels of stress and sickness, and staff are leaving at an alarming rate. Since April 2010, more than 2,700 staff have left – over 20% of the total call centre workforce of 12,800.

The ballot also follows an announcement by senior managers that they want to close more of the department’s benefit processing offices and call centres. JCP is planning to reduce staff from its current 73,000 to 65,600 by 31 March 2012. This is down from a peak of 84,000 at the end of 2009.

HSE Health And Safety Visits May Be Cut By A Third
A leaked letter from the Health and Safety Executive outlines plans to withdraw inspections from entire sectors of industry, including some where “significant risk” remains. Unannounced workplace safety inspector visits may be cut by up to a third. The possibility of an unexpected visit from either an HSE or a local authority safety inspector helps keep employers on their toes; even now, workplaces can go decades without ever seeing an inspector.

 NHS Job Cuts
50,000 NHS staff posts are set for the axe, destroying government claims that the NHS is in safe hands. The news was reported by the Anti-Cuts website False Economy, from information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

David Cameron famously claimed before the election that he would “cut the deficit, not the NHS”. However 10 months into the coalition government, the reality couldn’t be more different, with NHS cuts across the country as local health trusts struggle to save £20bn from their budgets.

The total confirmed NHS staff cuts across the country currently stands at just over 53,150 posts – and that’s before a host of trusts are expected to announce staff cuts over the next four months. The national total is already twice the previous estimate of 27,000 job cuts, published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last November.

Here in Guildford, the Royal Surrey has already seen four hundred job losses, together with a reduction of beds per ward. Many NHS trusts are seeing job losses of around 20% of the workforce. http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/more-than-50k-nhs-job-losses

Unemployment
It was reported in the guardian last week that the IMF held a conference about the financial crisis. The policy to emerge from the conference was “internal devaluation”

The idea is that countries with high labour costs relative to its trading partners will get its costs in line by lowering wages. The way they lower their wages is to force workers to take pay cuts under the pressure of high rates of unemployment.

An alternative, argued some would be to promote higher inflation in surplus countries. A higher rate of inflation would have the effect of eroding debt in real terms. A higher inflation rate will also increase the costs of the surplus countries relative to the costs of the deficit countries. It would allow the deficit countries to regain competitiveness.

The IMF and the central banks however have reaffirmed their programme of austerity and mass unemployment. Under our Capitalist system no government or bank is going to compromise its own competitiveness –however short term – for the common good.

Here in Britain, the unemployment rate is now 8%, with youth unemployment running at 20.6%. There are 2.54million presently unemployed according to the ONS, (Office of National Statistics) and another 1.19 million in part-time work because they can not find a full-time job. https://suacs.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/voice-of-anticapitalism-in-guildford-unemployment/  Unemployment is at a 17year high and is set to rise much further once the cuts proposed by the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review are implemented.

Apart from the threat of unemployment and the cuts to pensions and wages, a further attack on wages comes from the government’s plans referred to as the big society. Legions of volunteers, the government hopes will take over the running of public services where skilled workers were previously employed. The unemployed are also to be dragooned into working for their unemployment benefits, to take over the jobs once performed by fellow workers.

Families Could Lose Over £2,700 A Year Despite The ‘No Losers’ Welfare Pledge
Low and middle income families will suffer annual benefit cuts of over £2,700 a year by 2013, despite the government’s pledge that there are to be ‘no losers’ in the setting up of the new universal credit system, the TUC warned last week.

The government has said that no worker will be financially worse off when universal credits replace the current system of tax credits and benefits in April 2013. But in order to fulfil the ‘no losers’ pledge the government will have to reduce benefits before the changes take place in 2013, and so is making swingeing cuts to tax credits and benefits that will leave families thousands of pounds worse off in the run up to the April 2013 changeover.

Between April 2011 and April 2013, the government is introducing a series of welfare cuts which include reducing the amount of childcare costs that can be met by tax credits, freezing elements of working tax credit and child benefit, ending government payments to the child trust fund, and ending child benefit for higher rate taxpayers.

In addition, switching the measure for rating benefits from RPI (Retail Price Index) to CPI (Consumer Price Index) will reduce the value of key benefits over time, saving the Treasury £5.8 billion by April 2015, says the TUC. Housing benefit cuts will also lead to significant reductions in family incomes, including those of many working households. A TUC analysis shows that changes to the tax credit and benefits system alone could leave working families £2,700 a year worse off by April 2013.

Join the TUC demonstration against cuts in London, March 26th. There are coaches leaving from Guildford, subsidised by Unison. Only £2.00RTN. Click on the link at the top of the page for details.

Notes from Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) meeting in Staines on 3rd March 2011. Recorded and typed by Paul Couchman.

We had expected a smaller turnout than usual due to the long distance from other parts of Surrey but there were about a dozen activists present – almost all from the Staines and surrounding area. A number of people from the newly formed West Surrey branch of the Revolutionary Socialist Youth group also came along and were fully involved in the meeting. A key decision to advertise anti-cuts council candidates was taken, see below.

AROUND THE TABLE
There were reports around the table about cuts taking place (or planned):
*Staines Fire Station (and other Surrey stations) threatened. Night fire cover being axed.
*Cuts in colleges and universities – the University College Union (UCU) balloting for strike action.
*Threatened closure of 11 libraries
*Axing of the entire Mobile Library service
*Commissioning of Youth Services
*Closures of Childrens Centres and Surestart Centres
*Childrens Homes
*Adult Social Services – major job cuts and changes threatened in terms and conditions – UNISON balloting members around industrial action.

OFFICERS REPORTS:
CHAIR
Chris apologised for tinkering with the SOSiS website and bringing it crashing down. A replacement website has been set up and Chris is working on saving all the original information. Coach tickets for 26 March can still be bought online and the mailing list is unaffected.

 ORGANISER
Paul outlined some of the people and organisations he has been making contact with on behalf of SOSiS:
*Staines Labour Party (LP) – Paul spoke for SOSiS at the demonstration organised by the local LP to save night time fire cover at Staines Fire Station. One of the organisers was at the meeting.
*Close contact has been made with the ‘Friends’ groups at New Haw and Godalming libraries.
*A letter appeared in the local paper from the Surrey NetMums group saying they were fighting cuts to childrens centres and Surestart. Paul has made contact with them.
*MenCap (learning disability charity) have organised a series of anti-cuts roadshows and Paul is attending the Surrey event this Tuesday.
*Paul and Chris met with the leaders of Save Our Surrey Community Hospitals, which has organised big demonstrations in defence of local health services. They are open to joint activity around the NHS.

Surrey County Council Trade Union group (SCCTU) have always bee fully supportive of SOSiS and again pledged support at their last meeting – with a specific motion passed to support the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance in their difficulties with the university management. The UCU reps said they wanted to work more closely with SOSiS around their current dispute.

Lastly, Paul was hoping to get a local NW Surrey anti-cuts group off the ground and the support and turnout at the meeting made that look very likely.

 TREASURER
Thelma was unable to make this meeting. It was reported that we have around £1,000 and that local groups and campaigns should make use of this by requesting funding for specific leaflets etc.

YOUTH AND STUDENT ORGANISER
Craig gave a full and detailed report of the amazing work and activities going on in Royal Holloway (RHUL) and in other universities and colleges in Surrey and in London.
* Lots of students turned out from RHUL and Strodes to an anti-EMA demo in January in London.
* Dan Cooper, leading anti-cuts campaigner, was elected President of NUS at RHUL.
* RHUL organised a debate on the ‘Big Society’ with a range of speakers, including from SOSiS, from the RMT and ‘False Economy’.
* RHACA (Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance) organised an occupation of a university building in London (with other * London students), setting up an anti-cuts space which was ended by bailiffs coming through skylights and dragging people out.
* It was also reported that leading anti-cuts campaigners and the RHACA have come under attack from RHUL management. SCCTU sent a message of support to the students.

REGIONAL ANTI-CUTS ASSEMBLY
It was reported that plans were under way to try to organise a regional assembly at RHUL but due to the management position this was now very unlikely. An offer has come from the UCU at University of Surrey (Guildford) to try to secure space there for an assembly after March 26th. Craig suggested that close links with the UCU at RHUL may mean pressure could still be brought to bear on the management there to allow the meeting to take place. Negotiations continue but it is our firm intention to hold a regional assembly in the near future.

 MARCH 26TH TUC DEMONSTRATION
A discussion took place and it was generally agreed that we believe this will be the biggest demonstration in the UK for decades. Coaches and trains have been booked from cities, towns and villages across the country. Every trade union is mobilising their members. UNISON in Surrey have booked four coaches from Staines, Woking, Guildford and Redhill – tickets are £2 each and selling fast. Craig informed the meeting that a student feeder march was planned on the day.

 MAY COUNCIL ELECTIONS
A discussion was started by Paul and Chris and a motion moved by Paul regarding how SOSiS can intervene in the May borough council elections without supporting any one political party. It was agreed by everyone that SOSiS needed to have a position and be able to inform the public and trade unionists regarding the anti-cuts position of candidates.

Paul moved the following motion, which was agreed unanimously after discussion:
That SOSiS puts aside a space on our website to list any and all candidates for council office who agree to sign up to the following pledge:
“If elected, I pledge to vote against ALL cuts in jobs, services, pay, terms and conditions. I will work with the trade unions and anti-cuts campaigners to defend all public services”.
That SOSiS circulates this message widely and invites candidates of all political parties and affiliations [except far right, racist and fascist parties] to contact us and sign our pledge.
This motion is completely in line with our founding principles and does not infer SOSiS support of any individual candidate or party.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Paul announced that there will be a lobby of the Labour Party Local Government Conference in London this Saturday 5th March, organised by the NSSN, the RMT and other trade unions – calling on Labour Councils not to impose cuts.

NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that we should aim to hold the next meeting on 24th March in Redhill and invite a speaker and use the meeting as a rally prior to the big TUC demo. We will also firm up and communicate any important information at that meeting regarding coaches, stewarding etc. Chris will make contact with the Redhill group to organise a venue and consider speaker/s. To make it more possible for people from this end of Surrey to attend, lifts can be arranged and/or a minibus booked. Activists who wish to go but need support to get there should contact us.

STAINES AND NORTH WEST SURREY ANTI-CUTS ALLIANCE
The majority of those attending were from the local area and, after the main meeting, all agreed to be part of a local group affiliated to SOSiS. We now have a solid group in Redhill and fledgling groups in Woking, Guildford and Staines.

There will be a SOSiS street stall on Saturday 19th March from 11am till 2pm in Staines to advertise the TUC demonstration and recruit new local activists. More details will be sent out nearer the day.

For Updates, news and events visit www.saveourservic.es or join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts Facebook page.  Email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

REMEMBER: There are Subsidised coaches to the TUC National Demonstration in London, March 26th. All are welcome. Only £2.00 RTN. Coaches are leaving from Staines, Guildford, Redhill and Woking. Buy a ticket online using a secure paypal at www.saveourservic.es or email www.guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk