Campaigning against council cuts in Southampton

Southampton council meets on 18 November in the next round of council budget consultations. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters will be lobbying the council to defend jobs and services and back Jeremy Corbyn’s call to stop cuts.

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Lobby of council meeting

Services currently under threat include six libraries in the city. Just £250,000 would keep them open and protect librarians’ jobs. NHS walk-in services in Bitterne have recently closed, despite a five-year long TUSC campaign. Just £120,000 would fund the nursing staff to re-open services there.

While these essential services suffer, Southampton council has found £2 million to complete its corporate arts centre project, now home to a new Nandos restaurant.

The council actually held £19.9 million in its ‘General Fund reserves’ at the end of the 2014-2015 financial year. It also has £62.8 million in ‘earmarked GF reserves’ which, however, can still be used to support services. Councillors make choices – why can’t they find the money for the libraries and walk-in services?

Over £90 million cuts have been carried through since 2010 in Southampton, devastating jobs and services.

After winning a majority on the council in the 2012 local elections, Labour has continued voting though Tory cuts and losing council seats along the way, while anti-cuts councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell (a member of the TUSC national steering committee) have been re-elected with huge majorities.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn has boosted support for the anti-austerity movement. During the Labour leadership he spoke in Southampton to close to a thousand people who cheered his call to end council cuts.

To build support for such a stand TUSC is organising a Southampton People’s Budget conference to identify what the city needs and how we can fight for it.

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Victory for Jeremy Corbyn – now let’s build a movement to stop the Tory cuts

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national chairperson Dave Nellist has warmly welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s decisive victory in the Labour leadership contest.

Speaking shortly after the result was announced at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London, Dave Nellist, a former Labour MP who served in the Commons alongside Jeremy Corbyn in the 1980s, said:

“Jeremy’s clear victory will now give a voice to the depth of anti-austerity feeling in Britain. He has clearly inspired huge numbers, particularly young people, with his call for free education, public ownership of rail and energy, and for councils to stand together in opposition to government cuts.

“TUSC will host the first national left-wing meeting to discuss the new situation in two weeks’ time [on September 26th]. I’m sure that meeting will welcome Jeremy’s victory, but in reality it’s just the first step.

“The TUSC conference will be making plans to write to every Labour candidate standing in next May’s elections to ask for a meeting with them to see how much they are prepared to back their new leader’s anti-austerity stance. In particular we will be asking Labour candidates if they agree with us that Labour councils should now combine together and refuse to implement the Tories’ brutal austerity agenda.

“Where we get a positive answer from Labour councillors or candidates we look forward to the possibilities of joint action against austerity.

“Where, however, Labour councillors or candidates are not prepared to follow Jeremy’s stance in opposing George Osborne’s austerity agenda, then TUSC will stand widely in the May 2016 elections in England, Wales and Scotland”.

Text for a model letter agreed by the TUSC national steering committee, which local TUSC groups can use to approach Labour council candidates, is available athttp://www.tusc.org.uk/17116/12-09-2015/model-letter-to-labour-councillors .

The TUSC conference is taking place on Saturday 26th September at Student Central, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY, from 11am to 4-30pm. To register go tohttp://www.tusc.org.uk/conference.php

“Unapologetic attack on austerity” at Southampton Corbyn rally

Jeremy Corbyn, photo David Hunt, Wikimedia Commons

Jeremy Corbyn, photo David Hunt, Wikimedia Commons

 A call for an end to austerity, from Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Southampton on 25 August, was met with a standing ovation and cheers from a near 1,000-strong audience. They were enthused by his unapologetic attack on austerity.

From the chair, Unite national political officer Jenny Formby welcomed everyone “to a meeting of socialists.”

Once again the huge turnout nailed the lie that there is no support for an alternative to austerity or a willingness to fight back. Corbyn’s calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage, affordable council housing and an end to cuts to local government were met with cheers.

In a limited discussion he gave backing to calls from the floor for opposition to fracking and support for council care homes and free national childcare.

The demand to defend local government and provide funding and borrowing powers for councils to tackle the housing crisis raises questions of what Labour councils and especially councillors who are backing Corbyn’s campaign, should do to stop the cuts.

Southampton Labour councillor Cathy McEwing, speaking from the platform, said the fightback had to start now. This is in the face of further cuts to council services in Southampton of £40 million in next year’s budget.

Pro-Corbyn councillors

What should councillors do to build this fight back?

Does this mean that councillor McEwing and others supporting Corbyn will now refuse to vote for further cuts? Opposition to cuts must include mobilising support in the trade unions and community to set needs-based budgets. If they do, Socialist Party members will give our full support, to build on the successful stand and re-election of Southampton Councillors Against Cuts, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas.

However last week, councillor McEwing and the Southampton Labour cabinet voted through £9 million of cuts, including cutting funding to five libraries. If this continues, Labour will continue to lose support and open the possibility of a return of the Tory council which was defeated by the strike action of council workers in 2011.

This support for Corbyn must be translated into a call for Labour councils to refuse to implement further cuts. However, those councillors who continue to say there is nothing they can do, who continue to vote for cuts, will need to be challenged again by anti-cuts candidates standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Anti-Cuts Councillor Don Thomas wins 1000 vote majority!

Congratulations to Don Thomas, re-elected as Coxford anti-cuts councillor by close to 1000 vote majority. He rejoins his anti-cuts councillor  Keith Morrell to continue to the fight against austerity and put an alternative forward on Southampton City Council to the axe-wielding Labour council. Southampton TUSC gave its active support to Don’d campaign as well as standing across the city in council and Westminster elections.

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Celebrating outside the count with Don & Keith!

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee held its first post-election meeting this week. Against the backdrop of a Tory-majority government committed to accelerated austerity, albeit one with the lowest ever share of support amongst the total electorate (24.4%), the need the build on the TUSC campaign to develop a socialist electoral alternative was recognised by all at the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) post-election national steering committee.

The meeting agreed a vote of thanks to all the 748 candidates – and their agents and campaign teams – who contested the elections on May 7th under the TUSC umbrella, polling a combined total of 118,125 votes.

Re-elect anti-cuts councillor Don Thomas!

Don Thomas anti-cuts councillor set to defend seat

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This election campaign has shown the rising tide of anti-austerity anger at Westminster politicians and the cuts agenda.

In Southampton, protests against library cuts and benefit sanctions have had large turnouts. Our street stalls have met enthusiastic support for campaigns to save Woodside Lodge care home and the Bitterne NHS walk-in centre.

Hustings give a glimpse of the battles to come. Under the pressure of an angry electorate, Tory and Labour candidates give false promises to provide ‘milk and honey’ to the NHS. Meanwhile, they are preparing a £30 billion slaughterhouse cuts programme.

The electorate is way to the left of the austerity consensus. In Southampton, anti-cuts councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell have given a courageous lead: voting to oppose all cuts. By building a united campaign with council trade unions and the community, they fought successfully to save Oaklands swimming pool.

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Keith was re-elected last year with 43% of the vote. This year, Don is standing for re-election on his record as an anti-cuts councillor. TUSC and Don support all those in the city who are fighting the cuts and maintaining a working class voice in the council chamber.

Campaigners back Woodside Lodge residents!

Families of residents met last night with campaigners supporting them in their fight to stop Southampton City Council closing down Woodside Lodge Care Home at Maybush. The meeting was alarmed to hear the attempts by the Council to put pressure on the families of residents who do not wish to leave their home. Council Leader Simon Letts gave a public undertaking that no one would be forced to move against their will. We call on him to honour that pledge.

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Campaign organiser Linda Hayes said:

“It remains the case that there is nowhere better in the city for the care and protection of dementia sufferers. Those residents of Woodside Lodge who wish to stay, and their families, have the full support of the campaign. Hundreds of people have signed our petition. We will continue lobbying councillors and MP Alan Whitehead to back the campaign and we are also seeking legal advice on the rights of residents to stay.”

Sign the online campaign petition here: http://tinyurl.com/ln5gwlo

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Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Keith Morrell said:

“In recent days politicians of all persuasions have been falling over themselves to make promises about providing quality health care for all. They all now have a chance to put their money where their mouths are and demand that the City Council withdraw the threat to close down Woodside Lodge. At the Lodge we have caring, highly-trained and experienced staff providing the best care possible for dementia sufferers in the city. The Council is currently carrying out a consultation of staff and we call on Cabinet member Councillor Dave Shields and his Labour colleagues to postpone their final decision until after the elections and join with us in campaigning for the incoming government to give full support to funding Woodside Lodge and free nursing care to all who need it.”

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Nick Chaffey, the TUSC Parliamentary Candidate for Southampton Test said:

“Caring for our vulnerable and elderly population should be a priority for this Council. Disillusioned voters want to see candidates live up to their promises: words are cheap. I call on all the Parliamentary Candidates in Southampton Test and all the candidates standing for election to Southampton City Council to give their full backing to the families of the remaining residents of Woodside Lodge.”

Save Woodside Lodge – stop the cuts!

Save Woodside Lodge: Southampton Test TUSC meeting

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Monday 27 April, 7.30pm

The Saints Pub, Kendal Avenue, Southampton, SO16 9LP

Speakers:

Linda Hayes, Save Woodside Lodge,

Keith Morrell, Southampton Councillors Against Cuts

Nick Chaffey, TUSC candidate, Southampton Test

The threatened closure Woodside Lodge epitomises the fate of the electorate, forced to pay in austerity for a crisis created by the Banks and their Tory, LibDem and Labour allies in parliament. Rather than fight the cuts, Southampton Labour Council, has faithfully carried out the Tories cuts. Elderly people, including a 92 year-old war veteran, are under threat of eviction into the private sector, where profits come before care.

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We reject all cuts to jobs and services. We give full support to care workers and their trade unions, residents and their families who wish to remain at Woodside Lodge and call on Labour councillors to postpone any decisions until after the elections on May 7th.

For more information contact Nick Chaffey 07833 681910

Join the 15 April global fast food worker protest in Southampton

Join the 15 April global fast food worker protest

Southampton TUSC candidates give their full support to the global Fast Food rights Day and the demand for £10/Hour minimum wage for all. Our candidates will be supporting tomorrows protests in Southampton and urge young people and fast food workers to join a union!

Protests on Wednesday 15 April, 11.30am at McDonalds, West Quay & McDonalds, Shirley

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Statement from BFAWU bakers’ union:-

On 15 April 2015, thousands of fast food workers will lead a mass movement ofaround 60,000 low waged workers striking across the United States to raise theissue of poor wages and the lack of trade union rights within their industry. Atthe same time, fast food workers and activists in 33 other countries around theworld will also be taking action against low pay. Here in the UK, the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union’s Fast Food Rights campaign, which works in conjunction with the US workers’ movement, is calling for an end to the use of zero hours contracts and demanding an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per

hour.

Protests have been organised across the country against employers who are wilfully exploiting their workforce in order to boost their already significant profits. Fast Food Rights actions will take place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Darlington, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff and Southampton (For details: fastfoodrights.wordpress.com)

One fast food worker on a zero hours contract said, “I’m joining the 15 April global day of action because zero hours contracts and low pay are no way to live. What the American fast food workers have done shows we can fight for better. It is great that the bakers’ union has taken up the fight for £10 an hour and union rights for fast food workers here, and that’s why me and my workmates have joined the union.”

Research recently carried out says that most employers have used the economic crisis to reduce pay and workers’ benefits, with profitable companies decimating the terms and conditions of their employees as a means to further boost profits. In the UK, we are witnessing a huge rise of in work poverty, with vast swathes of the country’s labour force having to rely on benefits to top up paltry wages.

The knock-on effect of this is that an increasingly high number of working people have no disposable income which in turn, has a negative effect on the economy. Indeed, research also suggests that people are often having to use more than 50 percent of their wages just to pay rent, leaving very little for food or other items.

Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “It is a scandal that a number of people who are working full-time are having to suffer the indignity of visiting a food bank in order to feed their families. What a savage, damning indictment of austerity Britain and its government, which has clearly turned a blind eye to this shameful inequality and brazen exploitation.

“15 April will prove to be a massive day of action which, in addition to raising the plight of workers in the fast food industry, will also expose the government’s failure to properly deal with tax dodging companies. If that’s not enough, we will be joining together with other workers to stop the privatisation of the National Art Gallery and fight to secure affordable housing. This entire event will unite a number of issues to bring about a collective demand to end the total injustice caused by greedy employers, poverty wages and vulnerable employment contracts.”

Join the April 15 Fast Food Rights global day of action – for more details of protests: follow the following twitter hashtags: #fastfoodglobal #April15 #10Now #joinaunion #strikefastfood – download campaign materials here

<https://fastfoodrights.wordpress.com/> read more from BFAWU website

<http://www.bfawu.org/hungry_for_justice_global_day_of_action_on_april_15th>

A short animation including some researched facts can be found here

<http://fastfoodright-bakersunion.nationbuilder.com/>

Reports of Fast Food Rights protests on Youth Fight for Jobs

<http://www.youthfightforjobs.com/wordpress/wordpress/?p=1125> and Fast Food

Rights <https://fastfoodrights.wordpress.com/> websites

Please send details of any local actions to fastfoodrights@mail.com

<mailto:fastfoodrights@mail.com> / ian.hodson@bfawu.org

<mailto:ian.hodson@bfawu.org>

BFAWU bakers’ union General Secretary Ronnie Draper to speak at NSSN conference on July 4th

Southampton TUSC candidates, 100% anti-cuts!

The ConDem Coalition government has slashed funding to Southampton Council, whilst passing tax cuts on to the super-rich and their friends in big business. But Labour councillors in the city have failed to fight and have meekly implemented the cuts. Hundreds of jobs have gone and vital services in the city such as youth services, day centres and adult social care have been lost.

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We need councillors who won’t vote for cuts like Coxford anti-cuts councillors, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas. Campaign victories have been won over Oaklands Pool and the Bitterne Walk-In, which show what can be done.

Join the campaign to restore council jobs and services. A united mass campaign of anti-cuts councillors, trade unions and the community can force the return of funding stolen since 2010.

On May 7th to oppose cuts, vote TUSC across Southampton.

In Coxford give your support to the campaign of anti-cuts councillor Don Thomas.

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A vote for anyone else is a vote for cuts!

SOUTHAMPTON TUSC COUNCIL CANDIDATES

BARGATE: ANDREW HOWE, BASSETT: NEIL KELLY, BEVOIS: GLYN OLIVER, BITTERNE: DECLAN CLUNE, BITTERNE PARK: LINDA BOULTON, FREEMANTLE: MIKE MARX, HAREFIELD: GRAHAM O’REILLY, MILLBROOK: DAVID RAWLINSON, PEARTREE: GRAHAM HENRY, PORTSWOOD: NICK CHAFFEY, REDBRIDGE: KIERAN WILSON, SHIRLEY: TARA BOSWORTH, SHOLING: DARREN GALPIN, SWAYTHLING: KEV HAYES, WOOLSTON: SUE ATKINS

Sanction Busting! Fight for jobs! Defend the Welfare State!

The trial of Ian Duncan Smith

A protest against social benefit Sanctions.

Southampton high street served a different purpose than usual today as the setting for the trial of the synonymous Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith and his crimes against the poverty stricken masses of Great Britain. A bustling crowd of union activists slowly gathered in in the Above Bar area today outside the city’s Green and pleasant Palmerston park. After a few photos the crowd mobilised and a grey suited man with a Iain Duncan Smith mask started hassling passers civilians with jibes . .

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“What are you all doing laying about, that’s it ,you’re all sanctioned”

“ Why aren’t you at work? Are you a single mother?” and later on

“I could live on £50 a week but I don’t have to , so I don’t”

IDS led the joint procession of Unite and TUSC activists to loud chants of

“Same old story, lying Tory” and “lock him up, throw away the key”

IDS was marched up the high street by the crowd before being arrested and handcuffed to a mock –Police officer. The crowd gathered outside the Southampton Bargate (the setting for Southampton courthouse in medieval times) At the jeers of the crowd IDS was placed in a ball and chains and marched onwards for a street theatre style trial outside Southampton Jobcentre.

The event was essentially in protest of Ian Duncan Smith’s Benefits sanction

“under which a jobseeker can automatically lose their benefits for low-level offences like missing an interview with their Jobcentre adviser” (Huffingtonspost[online]8Jan15)*

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The atmosphere seemed mainly jovial with all protestors politely following the procession on foot. A few startled public shoppers looked with mixed emotions. As we got to the jobcentre I couldn’t help but notice the chortling from the jobseekers outside when Ian Duncan Smith arrived in ball & chains.

The jovial atmosphere eventually cooled as the cold hard reality set in. As IDS took to the artificial dock a union representative read the names of all those jobseekers who paid with their lives for this form revoked sickness benefit

Yes, that’s right! People have actually died from this Government’s ongoing debacle, masked under austerity the government continue to find new ways to rob the poorest of society of their social rights and basic living cost.

(Poor people, of course nobody rich or born of privilege has ever been threatened)

A cap on social benefits which has been accused of targeting the sick and elderly. Huffington Post reported on the 8th Jan 15 that a review has been carried out on the sanctions with discerning consequences ‘particularly the effect on mentally ill and disabled”.

Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams went one further back in November last year stating . .

“People are dying because of these sanctions” (Mancunian matters [online]7Nov14)*

sanctions Sadly this was the case for David Clapson, the diabetic jobseeker who had one weeks benefits stopped from the sanctions process and couldn’t even afford the electricity to keep his insulin chilled. ( Guardian [online]9Sept14)#

A DWP commissioned review carried out by Matthew Oakley, a welfare expert with experience from both the Treasury and private industry enterprise ‘Policy Exchange’ stated the most vulnerable in society are at risk.

*[Huffington Post article from 8Jan15 available online here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/08/iain-duncan-smith-benefit-sanctions_n_6434852.html ]

**Mancunian Matters article available online here: http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/071171549-%E2%80%98people-are-dying%E2%80%99-oldham-mp-blasts-iain-duncan-smith-over-benefit-claim-sanctions

#The Guardian article from 9Sep14 available online here : www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/09/david-clapson-benefit-sanctions-death-government-policies