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Stroud Against The Cuts

Support the July 10th strike - march and rally in Gloucester

Thursday, 10 July 2014 08:13 administrator
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Up to 2 million members of Unite, National Union of Teachers, Public and Commercial Services Union, Fire Brigades Union, Unison and GMB will all be taking strike action together on 10 July.

Gloucester and District Trades Council are organising a march meeting at 11.30am at the Gloucester City Council offices in Gloucester Docks, marching to a rally at Shire Hall. If you can share transport from Stroud please let us know.


This is the biggest co-ordinated strike action for years.
Stroud Against the Cuts encourages our supporters to support the strikes in whatever way possible.

Why is the strike happening?

The National Union of Teachers have produced a video explaining why the strike is happening: .

They have also made a leaflet for parents (a pdf file here)

They describe the reasons for striking as "excessive workload and pointless bureaucracy" (with teachers working an average of nearly 60 hours a week), opposition to the imposition of counter-productive performance related pay, concerns about the number of teachers, attacks on pensions, and the nature of government/union talks. (click for more information from the NUT)

Unison have also produced a video explaining the reasons for their members in local government taking strike action:

 

They say: "Most UNISON members are low-paid, part-time women workers, struggling to pay their household bills. Losing pay for strike action is not something they do lightly.

Our members are not asking for the 14% pay increase company bosses and bankers are getting. Or the 11% MPs will see. They are just asking for a rise of at least £1 an hour.

That would mean almost half a million council and school support workers currently earning below the Living Wage of £7.65 an hour could come off in-work benefits." (See more from Unison)

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says: "The long-running dispute over firefighters’ pensions will see a further day of strikes at the same time as a walk out by local government workers, teachers and civil servants over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads.

 

The strike will last between 10am and 7pm and will be the fifteenth in the FBU’s campaign. The union is also expected to announce further action later this week. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The FBU has wanted to settle our dispute for a long time, but the government at Westminster is simply not listening. “We are therefore proud to take strike action alongside our colleagues in other unions on 10 July." (Click for more information from the FBU. Firefighters will also take further strike action later in July)

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has also produced a video:

 

They say: "Across the UK, pay cuts have damaged the economy and caused real hardship for millions of people. If pay had kept pace with inflation, average civil service pay would be £2,300 higher than it is now. But the government has announced that the pay cap will continue in 2014 and 2015 and possibly beyond.

We have submitted a pay claim to the Cabinet Office, which seeks a £1,200 or 5% pay increase. We have sought central talks on our claim. Now is the time to get behind this campaign as we go from strength to strength in challenging the government’s low pay agenda." (click for more from the PCS)

Unite the Union says: "Unite is seeking a £1-an-hour increase in pay for the local council workforce which has 400,000 employees earning below £15,000 a year and a million earning less than £21,000.

Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said: “Our members have endured four years of pay cuts in real terms and they have now voted overwhelmingly to strike on 10 July to drive home the message to ministers that ‘poverty pay’ in local government must end."

Unite’s members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted by 68 per cent to take strike action and by 79 per cent to take industrial action short of a strike after enduring four years of cuts in real terms." (click for more from Unite)

The GMB union says: "GMB members serving school meals, cleaning streets, emptying bins, looking after the elderly, helping children in classrooms and in all the other vital roles serving our communities are fed up with being ignored and undervalued.

Their pay has gone up only 1% since 2010 and in October even the national minimum wage will overtake local authority pay scales. Their case is reasonable, the employers won't listen and don't care, no wonder they have turned to strike action as the only way of making their voices heard." A ballot of members saw a 73% vote in favour of going on strike. (click for more from the GMB)

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 July 2014 08:24 )
 

Updates for Supporters of Stroud Against the Cuts

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:08 administrator
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Update 01/07/2014:

Dear Stroud Against the Cuts supporters,

 

SATC has an organising meeting this Thursday 3rd July at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud. We will be discussing how we organise and plans for the year ahead after a pause in activities. Contact us for more information via:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Attached is the latest summary of new stories related to the NHS from Keep Our NHS Public.

 

On July 10th, hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will take strike action co-ordinated by the GMB, NUT, UNISON and (announced today) PCS unions against real terms pay cuts.

 

This Friday, July 4th, Disabled People Against Cuts are organising a "Independent Living Tea Party" outside the DWP offices in London.

 

This follows an attempted occupation of land outside Westminster Abbey by the group last week, see a Guardian report here  and videos and more here (scroll down for the videos)

 

Read previous updates by clicking read more below:

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 July 2014 16:18 ) Read more...
 

Our loyalty is not to any party

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:11 administrator
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After an energetic and vociferous protest against Michael Gove's recent visit to Marling school, Hilary Fowles, a member of the local Labour Party, wrote a letter published in both Stroud News and Journal and Stroud Life which argued that Stroud Against the Cuts is "mostly run by the Socialist Party". As this is untrue, we wrote the following response:

We, too, were inspired by the amazing energy and political engagement of
Marling and Stroud High Students, and proud to have been part of their
demonstration against Michael Gove and his disastrous attack on education.

People of all ages are tired of the government's assault on everything that
helps ordinary people in this society - from education to health and
benefits - in the interests of a privileged few.

Stroud Against the Cuts continue to work to expose what's being done to our
welfare state, including our local MP's role in it, and the impact on local
residents and workers.

If we're going to defend our jobs, living and working conditions and
services, we have to do more than just put an X in a box occasionally. We
feel it is necessary for ordinary people, organising together, to hold
those in power to their promises to us - and not just their promises to
corporate funders.

We would like to spend our time on this but we feel compelled to respond to
misleading statements in Ms Fowles letter.

Several parties including Labour were at the Gove demonstration promoting
themselves.  Stroud Against the Cuts' members, of various parties and of
none, spoke to and listened to the opinions of students about the
corporatisation of their education.

Ms Fowles claims that Stroud Against the Cuts is 'mostly run by the
Socialist Party'. If she attended our meetings, she would see that is
completely untrue.

Our members - and our key activists - include Labour, Green and Socialist
supporters, and people who aren't involved in any parties. We work with
anyone who shares our concerns or is affected themselves, including local
charities and trade unionists.

Groups like Stroud Against the Cuts have shown that local citizens can do
more than just waiting for the 2015 election. Most notably, we led the
campaign to stop 9 local hospitals being privatised. At a key point in this
campaign, Councillors Lydon and Drew left Stroud Against the Cuts, though
other members of the Labour party continued to be involved. We were left to
do the hard work of ensuring the campaign was ultimately successful.

When in power, we expect councillors to do what they can to help those who
are suffering worst from the cuts. That is why we were disappointed when
the Labour Party voted with the Tories against the Green's sensible and
fair bedroom tax motion.

As Stroud Against the Cuts, our loyalty is to ordinary citizens and to our
town, before it is to any party. We are proud to continue Stroud's
tradition of successful community action.

Yours faithfully,

Hannah Basson (Labour Party),

James Beecher (Chair, No Party),

Caroline Molloy (Green Party) and

Chris Moore (Socialist Party)

on behalf of Stroud Against the Cuts.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:16 )
 

Bedroom Tax update

Sunday, 23 February 2014 17:21 administrator
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In September 2013, the Stroud News and Journal reported that "Out of the 347 council tenants in the Five Valleys affected by the controversial changes to housing benefit, a total of 120 have fallen behind with their rent payments" (More recently, The Citizen reported that 238 families in Gloucester are spiralling into debt as rent arrears total £25,000 since April 2013).

Stroud Against the Cuts worked with Unite Community to collect 1200 signatures calling for, amongst other things, a policy of no evictions (as has been adopted by other councils) and the cancellation of rent arrears resulting from the bedroom tax. This was enough signatures to trigger a debate at a Stroud District Council meeting, which you can watch here (the Bedroom Tax petition debate begins at 33:45).

Following the council meeting, on the 6th December 2013, Stroud Against the Cuts sent the following letter to the local press. Below the letter is the latest information from the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation.

 

Over the last few months Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community collected 1200 signatures on a petition for Stroud District Council to adopt a policy of ‘no evictions’ and ‘cancellation of rent arrears’ due to the Bedroom Tax. Such a policy could have helped alleviate some of the stress and misery the bedroom tax is causing to the most vulnerable. Cuts in housing benefit due to the bedroom tax mean many are unable to afford their rent, building up debts through no fault of their own. People are worrying about future eviction or being forced to move away from their networks of friends and support.

We met many people who were prepared to downsize, but were stuck because of the lack of smaller social properties. The council has admitted it does not have enough suitable homes. Why should people be financially penalised for this?

We met a couple who didn’t want to move from Dursley, where they had family and friends, to Brockworth, where they are isolated.

Two thirds of those affected are disabled. At the meeting we gave an example of a disabled woman living on her own, who has been forced to postpone critical surgery because of the uncertainty surrounding where she will be living, due to the Bedroom Tax. The operation has a two year recovery period, during which moving house would be impossible. She can’t face the thought of moving, losing her possessions and pets. It is this human misery that gets forgotten when some of those opposed to the petition resort to petty political name calling.  To people like her refusing help on the basis that it ‘treats the symptoms not the cause’ and that the only solution is to ‘vote Labour in two years time’ sounds like hollow electioneering. 

At the council meeting Labour councillors claimed they had an ‘unwritten’ no evictions policy, but this won’t alleviate the stress of the vulnerable people affected. The tax only came into force in April, as arrears build an ‘unwritten’ policy can easily be changed. They weren’t even prepared to simply send a letter of condemnation about the tax to Parliament.

Instead, Labour councillors voted with the Tories and against the Green motion to publically state no evictions would be made and to write to the Secretary of State calling for the bedroom tax to be scrapped.

They were dismissive and insulting about the 1200 strong petition co-presented by Unite the Union.  Unite is the biggest public sector trade union and supports a policy of ‘no evictions’. Labour’s argument that those affected by the tax could not be given special treatment because it would be unfair to others in rent arrears for other reasons is simply an argument for inaction, while claiming to oppose a brutally unfair tax. Would it mean that those opposing privatisation could not be supported if another privatisation could not be halted elsewhere? It’s a ludicrous argument.

In the end SDC have refused to help some of the most disadvantaged people in the Stroud area. Stroud Against the Cuts is not aligned to any political party, and welcome any of those affected by the bedroom tax, or concerned about the impact of cuts and privatisation generally to get involved in campaigning with us: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 07583 497887.

 

Yours sincerely,

Chris Moore, James Beecher, Caroline Molloy, Hannah Basson, Steve Hunter, Christine Stockwell (members of the Stroud Against the Cuts co-ordination group)


Latest from anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation:
 
"Pressure is punching holes in the Bedroom Tax.  The Bedroom Tax is 
dead in Scotland - see story here and tenants are winning legal challenges.
 

* Every tenant can claim, appeal, protest - get the word out. The latest legal rulings say separated parents are each entitled to a bedroom for their children- separated parents see here; a bedroom is defined by how you use it - Bolton decision here and use see here;  small rooms do not count - size see here; the Pre-1996 rule means long term tenants on Housing Benefit can reclaim any amount lost due to the bedroom tax- see here
 
* Demand Council informs tenants of Discretionary Housing Payments and of exemptions and appeal grounds.  And instruct landlords to do same before threatening eviction - see 
http://nobedroomtax.co.uk/


* Organise for the Day of Protest 5 April - one year too long for Bedroom Tax - End it Now!   Marches and protests happening in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Ashfield, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southend, across London etc.
"

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Please get in touch:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 07583 497887 if you are affected by the bedroom tax or know someone who is and need advice on if and how you can challenge it.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 February 2014 21:45 )
 

Gove’s Cunning Plan Backfires

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:37 administrator
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by Stroud Against The Cuts member Chris Moore

 

"Education Minister Michael Gove recently tried to justify the role of the British military command in the First World War slaughter, accusing ‘left wing academics’ of using Blackadder to distort the teaching of the First World War. So on reflection he may regret his decision to visit Marling School whose former pupil Tim McInnerny, played the part of one of the characters, Captain Darling. 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of current Stroud students, mainly from Marling and High School, were waiting for one of the most despised members of the coalition cabinet. Gormless Gove was chased for over an hour round Marling, a grammar school that has recently benefitted from a £3.7 million refurbishment. ‘Education shouldn’t be elitist, it should be for everyone, that’s why I’m protesting:’ said Janneke Bax-Pratt. Gove was left cowering in a classroom along with Stroud Tory MP Michael Carmichael, while students circled the building chanting ‘Gove out.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

A handful of teachers tried to hold back students from getting too close to Gove, but were brushed aside by a wave of young people determined to make their anger heard. Other teachers clapped or smiled as Gove was hounded. Several were sympathetic to the suggestion of building support with students for their next industrial action against attacks on pay and conditions. Janneke spoke for many when she said, ‘Gove is pathetic and cowardly; he should have the guts to come out and speak to ordinary students. I’d like to know if he’s making visits to any comprehensives in the area.’ Will, a Sixth former at Marling School added: ‘why doesn’t Gove take a cut out of his own salary instead of cutting education and our future.’

 

 

 

 

The coalition government is continuing the dismantling of comprehensive education and replacing it with a tiered elitist system based on ever more testing. Education will be increasingly about teaching students to regurgitate facts for exams. Those in power see no point in spending resources on a decent education for all young people, because there will not be enough decent jobs needing highly qualified people. Free Schools and Academies are a way of taking schools out of local authority control and for the private sector to further get their claws into the education system. Teachers face attacks on pay through divisive performance related pay and a squeeze on pensions, while workloads and stress increase. Further strike action this year by teachers could get wide support from students and could be part of coordinated industrial action, building to a 24 hour general strike."

Chris Moore

 

 

 

 

 

See the original SATC call for a protest, with links to local press coverage and information on why the protests was called by clicking here.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:47 )
 


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