Monday 30 January 2012

Public debate on the Cuts in Brighton

Thursday 2nd February
Friends Meeting House
Ship Street

Friday 27 January 2012

Boycott Workfare

News from Brighton Benefits Campaign

Saturday 28 January, meet 12 noon at Norfolk Square

Join us in saying NO to Workfare!

As most people tighten their belts, Poundland announced another year of record profits, raking in £31.7m – a whopping increase of 34% – in 2010/11, and boasting of their ability to compete in ‘turbulent economic conditions’.

The shameless scroungers who run Poundland already rely on the state to top up miserable wages with tax credits and housing benefit, rather than doing it themselves from their ever-increasing profits. Now they have leapt to gobble up another handout, in the form of free labour from the government’s workfare programmes.

Workfare does not lead to employment. In fact it does the very opposite. It is an assault on jobs, wages and conditions, and it affects ALL working people.

Brighton Benefits Campaign calls on Poundland to stop their reprehensible exploitation of the unemployed and the poor. We will continue to campaign against Poundland until they abandon the use of workfare and instead employ people to do the work they need on a proper wage.

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Thursday 12 January 2012

Unison leaders sell out pensions dispute

It is a strange phenomenon in British trade unionism that when we are engaged in major national struggles we often send in people with no material interest in the outcome to negotiate for us. In the case of Unison, full-time officers whose pensions do not come from the public sector.

Sometimes, when committees made up of union members who are affected actually scrutinise the details, bad deals can start to unravel. So it proved with the Unite union, whose sectoral committees in health and local government rejected the “Heads of Agreement” which was negotiated just before Xmas. A similar thing happened in the teaching unions.

But it was not to be in the case of UNISON, whose main service committees on Tuesday all voted by convincing margins to accept the “deal”. This was despite a lively lobby of about a hundred activists organised by a number of London branches.

As Glenn Kelly, Bromley Branch Secretary, pointed out at the lobby, the “deal” still amounts to paying more, working longer (to 68 for many younger members) and getting pensions which could be worth 20% less for many members. Glenn also pointed out that Francis Maude and Danny Alexander were openly gloating that they had “settled” the dispute without any more money being put on the table. All that has been achieved is a delay in the imposition of increased contributions in the local government scheme only.

Speakers also pointed out that these committees had no mandate to accept proposals which fell far short of what members had demanded at the outset of the dispute.

There were reports of various shenanigans by the bureaucracy – such as unfounded claims that there was “no mood to fight” in certain regions, and blatant misrepresentation of the outcome of various meetings.

Whilst there is no doubt that this is a real setback, unions representing about a million of the workers who struck on 30th November have rejected the deal, and PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka will propose at the TUC on Thursday that further action is announced.

In UNISON, left activists will campaign for a Special Conference to try to overturn Tuesday's decisions but it will be an uphill struggle. Tuesday's events reinforce the need for the left to mount a serious and united campaign to increase its influence in the union’s structures.

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Friday 6 January 2012

Rebellion against pensions "deal" grows

Yesterday it was announced that the Unite Health Sector Committee had voted unanimously to reject the Heads of Agreement. They join the PCS in saying no to a deal which gives the unions none of their main demands. In addition some 50 Unison NEC and Service Group Executive members, and branch activists have signed the statement below. Why we say ‘no deal’ on pensions “These agreements deliver the government’s key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer. These reforms will save the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds over the next few decades and significantly improve the long-term fiscal sustainability of this country.” Danny Alexander As UNISON representatives and ordinary members we do not believe that the “Heads Of Agreement” on public sector pensions form the basis for settling our dispute with the government over our future pensions. The agreements would ultimately deliver the government’s agenda of making public sector workers work longer, pay more and get less in our pensions. The key elements the government has wanted to impose remain intact: • Increased Employee Contributions • A Retirement Age rising in line with the State Pension Age to at least 68 • Replacement of final salary with worse career average schemes • Pensions devalued by uprating them in line with the Consumer Price Index instead of Retail Price Index, cutting their value by 15% The agreement is based on the Treasury’s “final offer” issued on 2 November, which allows for negotiation on elements in each pension scheme but within a fixed “cost ceiling”. As Francis Maude has made clear “The cost ceiling has not changed. We have not put an extra penny on the table”. On 30 November we took part in the largest strike action in at least a generation, in an unprecedented display of unity across public sector unions. Dave Prentis rightly proclaimed it “an incredible success and one of the proudest moments of my career”. We believe it is a fundamental mistake only a few weeks later to allow the government to now play divide and rule. This can only make it easier for them to push through the cuts in our pensions as part of their wider austerity programme of real pay cuts and massive job losses, making working people pay the price for a crisis created by bankers’ greed. There is too much at stake to allow the Con Dems to pick off unions one at a time or to seek to isolate others as they are clearly attempting to do with the PCS. We therefore call on UNISON’s Service Group Executives to reject the “Heads of Agreement” and instead call for the resumption of further coordinated public sector strikes to defend decent pensions for all public sector workers. All signatories in personal capacity Diana Leach​National Executive Council Helen Davies​National Executive Council Jon Rogers​National Executive Council & Branch Secretary Lambeth LG Branch Bernie Gallagher​National Executive Council & Branch Secretary Bolton Metropolitan Branch Roger Bannister​National Executive Council & Branch Secretary Knowsley LG Branch Karen Reissmann​National Executive Council & Health Service Group Executive Paul Holmes​National Executive Council, LG Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary Kirklees Max Watson​National Executive Council & Higher Education Service Group Executive Janet Maiden​Health Service Group Executive & Chair UCLH Sandy Nicoll​Higher Education Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary SOAS Branch Matthew Raine​Higher Education Service Group Executive member (West midlands) David Buss​Local Government Service Group Executive David Hughes​Local Government Service Group Executive Jane Armitage​Local Government Service Group Executive Richard Buckwell​Local Government Service Group Executive & Branch Sec Ashfield LG Branch Sonya Howard​Local Government Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary Kensington & Chelsea Lindsay Williams​Local Government Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary Portsmouth City John McLoughlin​Local Government Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary Tower Hamlets LG Mark Evans​ Local Government Service Group Executive & Branch Secretary Carmarthenshire County Terry Conway​Community Service Group Executive Alex Knutsen​Branch Secretary Brighton LG Branch George Binette​Branch Secretary Camden LG Branch Gavin Mott​Branch Secretary Hounslow LG Branch Paul Cooney​Branch Secretary Huddersfield Healthcare Branch Jim Board​Branch Secretary Doncaster LG Branch Caroline Ridgway​Co-Branch Secretary, Manchester Community & Mental Health Branch Brian Mulvey​Branch Secretary Leeds LG Branch Tony Phillips​Branch Secretary London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Branch Suzannah Franklin​Branch Secretary Plymouth NHS Trust Health Branch Vik chichi​Branch Secretary QMUL Branch Paul Couchman​Branch Secretary Surrey County Branch Naomi Bain​Chair Birkbeck Branch Andy Richards​Chair Brighton LG Branch Nick Ruff​Chair Kirklees LG Branch Alan Daw​Chair Rotherham Health Branch. Barry Walden​Co Chair Camden LG Branch Phoebe Watkins​Co Chair Camden LG Branch & Greater London Regional Local Govt Tim Sneller​Chair Southend LG Branch Mick Ryan​Asst Branch Secretary Kirklees LG Branch Andy Cunningham​Asst Branch Secretary Manchester Metropolitan University Branch MarshaJane Thompson​Asst Secretary Havering LG Branch & Gr. London Regional LG Executive Tony Barnsley​Joint Assistant Branch Secretary Sandwell General Branch Matthew Shephard​Publicity Officer City and County of Swansea Branch David Kersey​Communications Officer Coventry LG Branch Sam O'Brien​Communications Officer Rochdale UNISON LG Branch Dave Fellows​Convenor for School Support Staff East Sussex Area Branch Sue Bowes​Membership Officer, Brighton & Hove LG branch Steve Squibbs​Branch Convenor, Hampshire UNISON Shirley Ford​Branch Equalities Officer South Tyneside LG Eran Cohen​Young Members Officer Homerton Hospital Branch Shona McCulloch​Young Members' Officer University of Sussex Branch Linda Burnip​Unison retired member and Disabled People Against Cuts

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