Bulletin 142 2013 – The brutal reality of the Bedroom Tax & Fighting back

May 16, 2013 in Bulletins, Reports, Strikes

This week the impact of the brutal Bedroom Tax had tragic consequences. We pass on our sympathy and condolences to the family. On the eve of PCS conference, a rep from the union argues for the unions to be at the fore in the battle against this hated tax and the whole austerity programme:

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has unleashed a brutal war on the historic social gains of the working class in Britain. Attacks on welfare provision – such as the Bedroom Tax – display the cold cruelty of the British ruling class. Since 1 April, 660,000 social housing residents in Britain have been hit by housing benefit cuts of between 14% and 25% for the crime of having a ‘spare room’. Tragically, the Bedroom Tax had claimed its first victim, Stephanie Bottrill, a grandmother hit by the Tax took her own life after deciding she couldn’t cope, blaming the government in her suicide note.

This latest attack (in a line of many) has seen a growing fight-back and brought thousands of people into activity, with many participating in struggle for the first time in their lives. Local groups across the country have organised meetings, lobbies and protests in town centres, housing estates, social landlord premises and council meetings to build opposition to this despised law.

NSSN supporters in PCS fully support these initiatives and the union’s united campaign against welfare cuts. Around 40% of DWP workers will be forced to claim benefits due to low wages and unaffordable housing costs.  The trade union movement must stand side by side with people affected by the Bedroom Tax and other benefit cuts. Trade unions can play an increasingly important role in standing up against these attacks, particularly with the development of Unite the union’s community campaign which aims to organise students, unemployed and retired people.

The NSSN supports the demands of Unite in its material against the Bedroom Tax, which calls for the formation of local groups to lobby councils against evictions and the organisation of mass community-led direct action to defend homes and stop the bailiffs. The trade union movement can take on important lesson from the struggle against the Poll Tax in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It’s impossible just to react to each government cut, so I’m involved in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Lincoln. We have launched a ‘no Bedroom Tax evictions’ petition to the council and has nearly one thousand signatories already. So far, our campaign against the Bedroom Tax in Lincoln has organised public meetings, a fundraising gig, protests and lobbies to call for the Labour-controlled council to adopt a ‘no evictions’ policy and to re-designate homes. Like many other Labour councils, Lincoln has so far refused to defend working people and have instead passed on the cuts to their constituents. It doesn’t have to and there IS an alternative to cuts! (Nick Parker DWP rep personal capacity)

NEWS UPDATE: George Tapp, 64, was knocked down by a car on May 15 which sped through an anti-blacklist protest picket at BAM site at Man City FC, he has two broken legs and got a bad knock to the head. Car also hit two other blacklisted workers. Send a message of support to George via: 07949335390

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NSSN News

NSSN fringe meeting ‘Time to strike together against austerity’ Wednesday May 22 lunchtime   Speakers: Chris Baugh PCS Assistant General Secretary, John McInally PCS Vice-President and Rob Williams NSSN chair   Chair: Marion Lloyd PCS NEC   Room:  Syndicate 3

Rob Williams also addressed POA conference on Tuesday on behalf of the NSSN.

Join us at the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) 7th national annual conference – We already have several bookings from keen trade unionists to take part.

11am-5pm, Saturday June 29th, Camden Centre, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE – initial speakers confirmed: union general secretaries Mark Serwotka PCS, Billy Hayes CWU and Steve Gillan POA. We will have 4 workshops – Fighting for the NHS, Building the Housing front, Fighting the Blacklisting & ‘Sick of your Boss’.

BOOK NOW £6. Cheques can be made payable to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’ – either email info@shopstewards.net or reply to PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE Leaflet & letter for union branches, shop stewards committees, trades councils, anti-cuts campaigns is on the resources page of the website. This is the conference to organise the urgent fightback in the unions with a clear NO CUTS policy!

New NSSN NHS Bulletin (no.3) now out! Plus new NSSN conference flyer! Please let us know if you need supplies

Wales Shop Stewards Network Conference – “All out together – TUC call a general strike!” – from 10-4 on Saturday June 8 in The Maldron Hotel, 100 yards from Cardiff Central station, St Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GD

Thanks to several branches and trades councils for affiliating, please join them.

PCS

New front opens in Propaganda war at British Library

Successful start to Efra strikes & Action hits business at Holyrood as Scottish Civil servants strike.

Massive vote for strike at controversial IT firm

Fraud in benefits system dwarfed by corporate tax fraud

PCS, Unite and Prospect union members at Gatwick Airport have voted overwhelmingly to reject bosses’ latest offer of new, lower start rates.

The offer was rejected by 97 percent on an 82 percent turnout. Some 95 percent of workers also voted for an industrial action ballot if the bosses do not make an improved offer

RMT

RMT exposes government lies in bid to re-privatise the East Coast Mainline in a move which will cost the public hundreds of millions of pounds

London rail agency safety and security staff take action in fight for justice

RMT prepares to ballot for action over “undignified and degrading” Virgin rail staff uniforms. It is preparing to ballot for industrial action on Virgin Trains as staff continue to react with fury to plans to introduce skimpy, revealing and ill-fitting uniforms that union members have branded as degrading. The staff anger has been further fuelled this week with pictures of Richard Branson dressing up as a woman in a specially made Virgin uniform as a publicity stunt for his airline more

Union calls for withdrawal from EU and attacked the media for only using right-wing voices from the anti-EU side of the debate when in fact it is the working class that are suffering most across Europe as a result of the bankers and business-led austerity measures.

In separate ballots conducted over the past two weeks, tube drivers, cleaners and TFL electricians and engineers have voted overwhelmingly for action in a series of disputes over attacks on agreements and working conditions, pay and threatened redundancies.

Mcnulty campaign Portsmouth

GMB

Brighton and Hove staff at Hollingdean bin depot staged a two day sit-in last week in protest against cuts to their allowances.

We’ve set up a petition, which instantly emails all the councillors every time someone signs it: 

Unite

South London refuse workers offered ‘pathetic’ rise, while employer’s profits soar. The basic annual salary of Croydon council’s chief executive Jon Rouse, before he left in January, was £179,000 and Bromley’s chief executive Doug Patterson is on £177,000.  The accounts of Veolia Environmental Services UK plc reported that the group operating profit for year ending December 2011 was £121 million.

Unite has accused Aviva of betraying its UK workforce by offshoring 600 back office processing jobs to India.

Liverpool dockers ponder ballot on industrial action

Unite Housing workers members at Equinox workers are balloting over wage cuts read here. (One Housing workers have been given an updated offer and will be balloting members on that). Unite Housing workers and Unite community ran a day of workshops on how to stop the housing crisis and alternatives with European anti-eviction campaigners also in attendance.

No pay for charity interns’ breeds elitism

FBU

FBU to vote on immediate strike ballot over pensions’ cuts

UNISON

Mid Yorks Dispute “Today the Trust published it monthly spends over £25,000 for April. In the same month that they imposed pay cuts on 100’s of their staff the Trust board gave an unbelievable £986,292 to Ernst & Young!

This makes a total of well over £5 million. This is an absolute scandal which should be investigated by the NHS nationally.  To put the icing in the cake the Trust also gave £69,000 to KPMG! A freedom of information request has also revealed that they have spent £50,000 on the useless Medical Secretary company Dict8! We are continually lectured by our managers that the Trust needs to save money but as far as these management consultants are concerned Mid Yorks Trust is a bottomless pit dishing out public money for very little in return.

If they have the money to pay these parasites they have the Monet to stop the downbandings and job cuts. Make sure you vote yes for strike action and send a message to Eames and co that we’ve had enough of incompetent management. VOTE YES!

Petition for a 4:1 mandatory minimum staffing ratio for nurses in the NHS

CWU

Solid support for Crown Post Office strike here

NUT-NAS/UWT

Public Rallies for Education:-

Saturday 18 May – Cardiff 11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: Motorpoint Arena, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff, CF10 2EQ

Speakers: Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary and Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary.

Newcastle 11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

Speakers: Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary and Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary.

USDAW

The union has now committed to launch a campaign for a living wage for all retail workers, including pressing for this as a minimum in all pay negotiations.

NUT

Gove’s letter to schools claims that “the purpose of the pay reforms is to give schools the autonomy to attract, recruit and reward the teachers that they need”. What Gove really means of course, is that the purpose of his ‘counter-reforms’ is to cut costs, dismantle national terms and conditions and to bully teachers into taking on even more workload.

NORTH-WEST REGIONAL STRIKE and LONDON MARCH & RALLY ON JUNE 27 – Michael Gove’s announcement that he plans to attack our holidays and conditions, on top of his attacks on pay, have angered teachers’ right across the country. In the North-West, those attacks will only encourage an even stronger response to the call for joint NUT / NASUWT regional strike action on June 27th.

UCU Universities cannot do more for less, says UCU after fees study.

Welsh TUC argued in its one day conference (!) ‘We can’t debate a general strike because that is not a devolved issue.’

Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax federation launched with over 250 delegates

And this morning – support claimants going to court to fight the bedroom tax” A vigil will be held this on 15 May outside the Royal Courts of Justice in support of claimants taking a challenge against the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ called by Camden United for Benefit Justice, Disabled People Against Cuts, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty, and WinVisible

Hands off universal pensioner benefits

Blacklisting & victimisation

Workers in GMB and Unite at Runcorn Thermal Power Station have walked out unofficially on May 13 to support laggers, who believe that management are reneging on agreements on hiring local labour which amount to blacklisting. Other workers on the site respected the laggers’ picket line and there was a feeling among many that until the issues are resolved, there should be no return to work. This dispute is now resolved!! This action shows how blacklisting can be fought on the sites. Unite are currently fighting victimisation and blacklisting of their sacked shop steward Frank Morris.

Union protests point finger at blacklist bosses GMB Protest On Thursday 16 May At London Ceremony As Blacklister Carillion Is Shortlisted For A Sustainable Business Award

Carillion threaten to sue GMB branch sec for tweets & blog about company role in blacklisting and racist bullying at Swindon Hospital

 SHREWSBURY – A FILM RE-EXAMINING THE POLITICAL EVENTS SURROUNDING THE ARREST OF 24 SHREWBURY BUILDING WORKERS AND THE IMPRISONMENT OF THREE OF THEM.  We are showing the 45 minute film of the story of the Shrewsbury pickets it contains historic footage of the 1972 strike, and brings the story of the fight for Justice up to date. We are showing the film at Redhills Durham Miners Association office. Saturday 25th May. 12.30pm. It is 5 to 10 minutes from Durham station. Redhills Lane.

INTERNATIONAL see also Labourstart

Bangladesh death toll approaching 1200. Join the online solidarity campaign

KONG PORT STRIKES ENDS after they win a 9.8% pay rise

Greece Anti-union wartime ‘mobilization’ laws being used to order Greek teachers to report to work tomorrow to break their strike action against cuts and closures:

IRELAND Bus Eireann workers in front line of class war

SOUTH AFRICA A potential witness at the judicial inquiry into South Africa’s Marikana mine massacre has been gunned down in an alleged assassination amid fears of renewed violence in the area. Following the assination, miners at Marikana went on wildcat strike, demanding the closure of the NUM offices at the mine.

DIARY

17 Crossrail Blacklist protest Department of Trade & Industry I Victoria St. SW1H OET 8am

Thames water sewer proven blacklisters BAM are tendering for the project Meet outside Reading train station for Thames Water HQ – Thames Water, Clearwater Court, Vastern Road,

Reading,Transport available if required – blacklistsg@gmail.com

18 Fight the NHS cuts London march londonkeepournhspublic@gmail.com

Portsmouth against cuts march meeting at Fountain Commercial rd. 11.30am

Sheffield Axe Bedroom tax meeting.

21 Frank Morris V Crossrail & BFI 9am Kingsway Employment Tribunal

22 The London Fire Authority are holding a meeting at Sydenham School on Wednesday at 7pm. There will be a protest rally outside from 6pm.

22 Unison Lobby – S Glos Council: Hands Off Our Pay, Terms & 22 Conditions! Bristol

NSSN Fringe meeting at PCS conference

23 Seeing Red – Days of Hope film on the General strike @ BFI

24 Reclaim the Night Northampton Abington Park 7.30pm

25 Glasgow Anti Blacklisting March & Rally 11.30am Holland St.

27 Stop the Eviction of the Counihan-Sanchez campaign!

29 How to stop the welfare cuts Hackney Unison 6.30pm Round Chapel E5

 

JUNE

8 Wales Shop Stewards Network Conference – “All out together – TUC call a general strike!” – from 10-4 on Saturday June 8 in The Maldron Hotel, 100 yards from Cardiff Central station, St Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GD

Confronting the Climate Crisis – Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PDT) London Metropolitan University, Stapleton House 277 Holloway Road N7 8HN London more

Bournemouth Axe bedroom tax protest 6pm Town Hall

Poole lobby council over the Bedroom Tax.

22 People’s Assembly – Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH more

23 Time for Action Bin the Bedroom Tax 1pm CSHC host conference on further actions. The Albert, Albert Rd, NW6

29 7th annual conference of the NSSN

11am-5pm Camden Centre, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE more

JULY

6 Matchgirls strike festival of East London FREE

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CONTACT US Info@shopstewards.net   or look on our Website

TWITTER FACEBOOK STOP THE CUTS or NSSN Group

Secretary: Linda TaaffeEmail: lindataaffe66@btinternet.com or info@shopstewards.net

Phone: 07952 283 558

NSSNPO Box 54498, London E10 9DE