Sunday 31 January 2010

March for Jobs!

Please join this march on 6th March and tell your friends.

Also, this public meeting

Brighton Workers Speak Out * Striking against job cuts
Start Time: Tuesday, February 9 at 7:30pm
End Time: Tuesday, February 9 at 9:30pm
Where: Hanover Room,Brighthelm Centre

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

Thursday 28 January 2010

Goldsmith fails to convince.......

"As I said that maybe the war would not be illegal after all, I felt the CIA operative's grip on my throat loosen slightly........."

Your school belongs to ME now........

The modest title which Rod Aldridge has given to the Falmer Academy school is..........

The Brighton Aldridge Community Academy.

This is not a bad return on £2 million - a fraction of the true cost of running the school. Incidentally, let's hope that money is actually forthcoming, since this is not always the case.

Rod has never struck me as the shy, retiring type - ever since I first came across his grand entrance in a chauffuer-driven limousine at Hove Town Hall, when his company, Capita, was trying take over the Council's Revenues and Benefits Service some 10 years ago. Fortunately this New Labour-inspired piece of privatisation was seen off by a united campaign by the workers in the service and the service users.

No service users were asked if they wanted that service privatised, just as Falmer parents were not asked if they wanted their school to become an academy.

And they sure as hell weren't asked if someone could steal its name.

But when the privatisers get to work, it is always democracy which goes out of the window first.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Tories attack public transport subsidies

The Tories on Brighton and Hove City Council want to slash bus subsidies by 15%. This will save a paltry £200,000 - the equivalent of a Chief Executive's salary package. I suppose that we shouldn't be surprised that the party of Geoffrey "Park my Jag where I like" Theobald would go for something like this.

The Tories hate this kind of public provision with a passion, and what the Tories have done in Brighton and Hove chimes in nicely with what their friend Boris has done in London, with huge fare hikes.

Don't be fooled by soft-focus Dave and his green spin. Here's an example of what they're really like.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Action against job losses and cuts in services

The local trade union movement is organising a campaign against the rising tide of actual and threatened job cuts. Somehow, despite the hype, Brighton and Hove does not feel that "well-placed to come out of the recession" to quote that rather complacent report which was mentioned in the Argus this week.

Everyone should support both the public meeting and the march detailed below -


Politicians,economic "experts" and the media are continually announcing the end of the recession. With top bankers receiving record bonuses again,it may be over for a few. But for the rest of us, the threat of unemployment and public service cuts is still growing. Brighton and Hove Unison and Brighton and Hove District Trades Council have recently held large meetings to give a voice to trade unionists and others resisting the effects of a recession we played no part in creating. Last year we gave a platform to GMB members at Hollingbury bin depot, who described how strike action forced Brighton & Hove council to withdraw a pay cut. Unite members at Lloyds Bank spoke out about 415 jobs threatened at one Brighton office.

Our next meeting will give a platform to RMT and UCU members currently balloting for strike action against job losses at Network Rail track maintainence and Sussex University. They will be joined by representatives from Unite, speaking about the campaign to save over 200 jobs at BOC Edwards in Shoreham, and FBU reps from Preston Circus Fire Station, who are trying to stop management moving their station to a less suitable location. There will be plenty of time for others involved in local or national disputes, including job centre staff, Argus journalists and strikers from IT firm Fujitsu, to share their experiences too.

We will also be discussing what we can all do to help each group,how we can link the struggles together,and what we can all do to prepare for the even bigger attacks on us alll after the election. There will be space for informal networking after the meeting.

BOC Edwards
UCU,Sussex University
RMT,Network Rail
FBU,Preston Circus Fire Station

Organised by Brighton and Hove Trades Council and Brighton and Hove Unison
Supported by Brighton Workers Solidarity Group

March for jobs! Brighton Trades Council Press Release

Trade union activists and campaigners have come together to organise a demonstration in Brighton as a call to action to fight back against the unjustified job losses taking place across the city and the country.

Delegates and organisers at a meeting held by Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council are urging trade union branches, students, the unemployed, workers and their families to take part in this important demonstration which will take place on Saturday 6 March.

Assembling at The Level at 12 midday, the demonstration will march past significant workplaces and sites in the city effected by the current threat of job losses ending at Brighton town hall where a rally will be held to put forward demands to defend all jobs and prevent any public service cuts as part of a fight back campaign against these unjustified attacks on working people.

Across Brighton & Hove working people are being threatened with thousands of job losses as workplaces close down. The devastating news of 220 redundancies at manufacturing firm Edwards last week adds to the job purge currently taking place against workers.

Track maintenance crews organised in the RMT union will be balloting for strike action over 1,500 job losses on the railways. If these job cuts go ahead safety will be severely threatened for both workers and travellers with already overstretched services.

Hundreds of jobs at Borders and Threshers in Brighton have already gone, more than 600 redundancies have been announced across two Lloyds sites, Brighton & Hove City Council wants to shed 150 workers and Sussex University plan to axe nearly 200 jobs.

Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council general secretary Bill North said: “Billions of pounds are being handed out to bankers and chief executives of companies technically owned by the taxpayer at a time when more and more people are being thrown out of work with nothing being done to protect these jobs. This completely distorted and unjustified situation cannot continue any longer.

“In the Brighton area hundreds of working people are being threatened with a worsening situation as job losses mount up.

“However, time and time again it has been shown that strong, organised trade unions can and do make a positive difference, defending jobs and conditions when they are under threat.

"If you’re not in a trade union - join one. If you are - get active.

“There is huge anger at the alarming lack of protection for workers at the same time bllions in bonuses are dished out to the rich and this demonstration will give people the opportunity to make a stand and will send out a clear message to bosses and the government: we will not pay for your crisis.”


Brighton, Hove & District Trades Council
Acting press officer: Peter Knight
07788 744120

Monday 11 January 2010

Incompetence and hypocrisy - in the same week!

Sometimes it can feel like all your Christmases have come at once.

First we had "Hoowit" - politics' answer to Jedward (only less talented). The sight of Geoff n' Pat, possibly the least able and least inspiring out of the whole New Labour crop (and how low is that bar?!) making complete arses of themselves with their "coup". It somehow summed up the whole sorry episode that, according to reports, they couldn't even get the business of sending the email right - everyone got an accidentally-sent blank one first.

Then we had the Robinsons. Iris, who infamously compared gays to murderers, apparently thinks the fidelity within (heterosexual) marriage that she preaches about is for other people, but not for her.

So all in all, a bad week for useless and odious politicians. Let's hope for more in the future.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Bit of a cock-up on the "value for money" front....

The emerging scandal of the escalating cost of the Lanes Car Park has brought this statement from Alex Knutsen, UNISON Branch Secretary. I couldn't have put it better myself. Staff working in the Council offices in Priory House, and visiting service users will be particularly interested to see the cost of the works which frequently filled the place with fumes and dust.

In the light of The Argus report (9th January 2010) UNISON is demanding that the City Council holds a Scrutiny Committee enquiry into the cost of the refurbishment of the Lanes (and London Road) Car Parks. At a time when the Council is threatening the livelihoods of at least 100 staff through redundancy, is facing tens of millions in budget cuts over the next few years at least, and has been instructed to keep front-line services safe, this is a scandalous waste of money. And to now ask for a further £440,000 is an outrage!

My 3,500 members in the organisation, who are, like Argus readers, also Council Tax payers, want to know why this enormous sum has been spent, and UNISON accuses politicians in the ruling ConservativeGroup, along with senior officers of, at best, being wasteful of our money.

What did the Car Park need? For years our members, now relegated from their essential face to face contact with the public, to a control centre in an office removed from the Car Parks, wanted better security, better equipment, and a few more staff. Did anyone listen to them, or their Trade Union? Very simply, no. The arrogance of elected members and officers was breathtaking, but then a glass lift (to be installedat great cost, when all that was needed was a new one in the existinglift shaft) and a pretty coloured "mood wall" (don't ask, go and see it!) is so much better for the image of the Council! Except, of course, it isn't. What the staff, and what the users of the Car Park, want, is a decent, secure (for the vehicle and the occupants) facility, with modern pay machines. The cost of this would have been a fraction of what has been spent on contractors, whose health and safety record in both the Lanes and London Road has been, at times, dangerous, for their staff and for users, and kept under some control by the efforts of Council staff and UNISON. It is now time for Councillors of all Parties to have a public look at what has gone on in their name. UNISON for its part will contribute detailed evidence, but until then the £440,000 should stay where is, inthe rather sparse Council safe !

Monday 4 January 2010

"Freedom of Information" and slow news days........

A new trend in British newspapers is apparent - nowhere more so than in our dear Argus. In that post-holiday period where nothing much seems to be happening, the cry goes up......

"Bang in a couple of Freedom of Information Act requests to the council and let's see if anything resembling a story results".

We had two examples last week in the Argus - one concerning numbers of council officers with powers to enter premises, and one on council staff use of officially provided mobile phones.

Now what real "news" there was here is open to serious question. On the first appears councils have staff who can legally go into people's homes and business premises. In case it has passed you by, councils do employ bailiffs, benefit fraud investigators, environmental health officers and suchlike who do have powers of entry. Which is to say that, generally, they cannot actually break your door down, but not letting them in would lay you open to criminal proceedings for obstructing them.

The second story threw up the amazing fact that council employees who have a mobile can use them for personal calls if they reimburse the cost - pretty standard for any employer who issues mobile phones.

Now I have no problem at all with the FoI Act, even if New Labour did water it down to such an extent that the people and corporations who really do have something to hide are generally not touched by it. Perhaps that's why we see it used in such a trivial way by most of the media.

It's other use is to act as a kind of surrogate for any serious investigative journalism. If you want to add a little Woodward and Bernstein cachet to your article just throw in a line that goes something like "we used the Freedom of Information Act to prise this information out of the council". We don't get to hear whether that information could have been obtained by just ringing up and asking for it, or whether the information was actually already in the public domain.

Still, I suppose the people who never wanted genuine freedom of information in the first place must be laughing.