Back the bin workers! Stop the council wrecking their Christmas!

Coventry’s waste service HGV drivers in Unite the Union are currently being balloted for strike action over low pay and an attempt by the Labour-run council to wreck the bin workers’ Christmas.

At the eleventh hour the Council has suddenly decided that the bin workers don’t deserve a Christmas break. Previously they always had the week of Christmas day off. This decision was made despite the fact that they have been risking their lives working through nearly two years of the Covid pandemic.

With a month until Christmas itself the bin workers’ festive plans could be ruined and family life disrupted.

The second issue brought by Unite members is that the drivers’ wages are as stale as the waste they’ve been collecting all year. While HGV drivers are being offered huge salaries in the private sector, our bin workers have had real terms cuts for years. Other councils have, under pressure, brought in retention payments or increased pay outright. Coventry Labour Council refuses to pay anything more.

Bin Worker Victories

The Council was quickly caught out aggravating the situation when even before the ballot began it warned residents about ‘impending disruption’.

They clearly want to turn residents against the drivers rather than settle the issue.

Perhaps they’re jumping the gun out of fear that they’ll lose this fight. After all, Brighton’s bin workers in GMB won outright against their council just last month, and weeks ago Sheffield’s bin workers -also in GMB- called off their strike action for a modest increase above what their council had offered.

Coventry Council should also remember the gigantic victory won by Unite’s bin workers in neighbouring Birmingham just 4 years ago. Then, the Labour council tried its luck at firing 113 Grade 3 staff to re-employ some at Grade 2 – essentially cutting their pay to cut costs. The bin workers took 12 weeks of strike action before the council caved and they retained their grades, pay and conditions.

Birmingham bin strikers, photo Birmingham Socialist Party

History of Council Cuts

The Coventry ballot follows a foul record by the Council with its own workforce.

In the summer the bin workers hit headlines after some collections were missed, which the Council blamed on some staff taking unofficial action but Unite pointed to under-staffing. At the time an anonymous bin worker told the Coventry Telegraph “daily targets have increased whilst the workforce has decreased, leading to bin crews being given impossible tasks to complete and the health and safety of the employees being put further at risk.” “The workforce are being driven into the ground.”

Since 2010 the council has slashed over 2000 jobs as part of carrying through brutal Tory austerity. It has repeatedly clashed with trade unions and has ignored protests against savage cuts to its services in that time, even when anti-cuts campaigners, including from the Socialist Party, have demonstrated that legal no-cuts budgets are possible.

Photo from Coventry Telegraph against closure of youth clubs in 2016

The fact that they still charge the families of disabled 16-18 year olds £600 a year for school transport shows this council will make cuts even when it causes great hardship for residents.

Which leads us to the present ballot. The council is demanding something for nothing from its own workforce again. And it’s doing so when it could easily end the dispute and stand on the side of workers in Coventry, not against them. Remember, the first issue is just returning the Christmas shifts back to how they were a couple of weeks ago.

And on pay, the council could frankly pay far more to keep its bin workers, and even hire more to make their jobs easier.

With total council reserves amounting to £144m and wide-ranging borrowing powers, far more could be done for the people of Coventry while a fight back against austerity is built. But no Labour council has shown any interest in taking up that fight, which is why the Socialist Party campaigns for anti-cuts socialist councillors under the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition [TUSC].

An Anti-Cuts Socialist Alternative

The TUSC umbrella includes the RMT trade union which co-founded the coalition after it was booted out of New Labour, as well as other socialists and trade unionists.

In recent months local TUSC groups have been organising People’s Budgets to bring together unions and local organisations and residents to develop no-cuts budgets that will meet the needs of local people, rather than follow the Tory cuts agenda. Coventry and Warwickshire TUSC will be organising People’s Budget meetings in the New Year. We will be standing in the May 2022 council elections pledging to use council money to restore and create more jobs on decent pay and improve our services. That will include waste and cleaning services. We appeal to any bin workers and other council workers who wish to be involved to get in touch.

Workers Are Fighting Back

The multiple U-turns made by Boris Johnson and his chancellor during the pandemic, spending billions when public pressure was on them, show that with a fight the Tories could be made to pay up and the working class could win victories. The same is true for Tory-lite Labour Councils. But we still need more.

Many workers are striking back against the bosses’ ‘fire-and-rehire’ offensive – which bosses are using to boost profits by cutting wages. Public sector workers, hit by a decade-long pay freeze, are rejecting the Tories’ insulting pay offers and preparing to fight back.

UNISON council workers have begun a ballot on strike action against their national pay offer, while the GMB is currently holding a consultative ballot, and Unite is due to start balloting in January.

The pandemic has helped reveal who real keeps society running. Workers should be paid and treated fairly for the vital work they do. Planned and organised strike action by the bin workers can defeat the council on this Christmas working arrangements attack, and force them to back down on other issues and win better pay.

Mass meetings of bin workers and all other council departments should be called to discuss and build support. Unite and the other council unions should prepare a mass campaign for further action across the council workforce against further attacks by the Labour Council.

Unite members in the council should discuss supporting anti-cuts and TUSC candidates in the May local elections in Coventry, or consider standing as anti-cuts candidates themselves. See the Socialist Party appeal to trade union members here: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/33352/17-11-2021/an-appeal-to-trade-union-members-to-stand-as-anti-cuts-candidates

Can Socialism Address Climate Change?

A world simultaneously on fire and flooded. Droughts, famine, wars for increasingly scarce resources. A refugee crisis with millions displaced and desperately hoping to survive. This could be the introduction to a dystopian science fiction story. In fact it is the global situation today.

The Latest IPCC Report

Against this backdrop, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on 9th August 2021. The picture is necessarily alarming. The United Nations chief said the report “is a code red for humanity”. Anyone willing to look would see that the climate crisis has been here for years. The impacts of climate change are already being felt by ordinary people across the world.

Our world is a complex system that is constantly fluctuating. Climate change is a natural occurrence. What distinguishes past periods to the current situation is the pace of the changes observed. Natural climate change occurs over periods measured in millennia. For example when the earth exited the last ice age around 12,000 years, it took around 5,000 years for the global temperature to increase by 5°c. In contrast, from around 1850 to now (roughly 170 years) the average temperature has increased roughly 1.1°c. That means global increases in temperature are happening as much as 10 times faster than would normally happen.

It is now commonly accepted as fact that:

  • Warming is taking place everywhere. Normally changes in temperature are different by region.
  • The warming is happening more rapidly.
  • This warming is taking place after a period of global cooling for around 6,500 years.
  • The last time that the earth was this warm was roughly 125,000 years ago.

All of this indicates that what is happening now is unusual and highly unlikely to be naturally occurring.

The Role of Capitalism

The conclusion of the IPCC and the vast majority of scientists is that human activity is the driver of the climate change we’re currently seeing. There is a significant body of observed evidence to support this conclusion. The main driver of climate change at the moment is the increase of what are termed greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which trap heat within our ozone layer and cause heating of the planet. These greenhouse gases include CO2, methane and nitrous dioxide, which are by-products of modern human society.

The knowledge of the direct link between activities such as coal burning and climate change has been known about for over a century. Recently a clipping from a 1912 article in the New Zealand newspaper Rodney and Otamatea Times was circulated through social media. This in turn was based on a magazine article published in March 1912. So by at least 1912 scientists were already aware that burning coal would affect the atmosphere and cause warming.

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from the following industries/sectors:

  • Energy production – 35% (25% for heat and electricity)
  • Agriculture – 24%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Transportation – 14%
  • Residential – 6%

Everything we do directly or indirectly results in production of greenhouse gases. Whether its the food we eat, the energy we use to keep ourselves warm and dry, travelling to work. This is because under capitalism, the priority is to maximise profits. Therefore the system will use the cheapest methods possible to achieve results. This means exploiting the natural resources of the planet with no consideration of whether those resources are renewable or their extraction will have consequences.

Not only does capitalism seek the easiest method to profits, it will use its resources to block or undermine the release of information that can hurt profits. As mentioned above, scientists have known for over 100 years that burning coal, gas and oil would have consequences. And yet the companies that extract and use those resources have rejected that information for decades, including funding alternative scientific reports to suggest there wasn’t consensus amongst the scientific community. They have also used lobbying to influence politicians to block or amend legislation that would be harmful.

These types of actions have meant that actions that should have been taken decades ago have been delayed. Even the current Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level to ensure that global temperature increases are limited to 2°c this century are generally seen to be insufficient.

A ‘Just Transition’?

Despite the efforts of capitalism to ignore climate change, it is now forefront in the public eye and there are a number of groups that are seeking to tackle climate change. The Socialist Party can and does seek to work with these groups. But we also recognise the limitations of these groups and in particular the weaknesses of their demands. This is most clearly illustrated in the concept of a ‘just transition’.

The idea behind a just transition is that the burden of societal changes required to address climate change needs to fall onto the shoulders that are most capable of bearing the burden. What this means in practice will differ depending on the type of change(s) being sought. For example it is likely that all internal combustion vehicles will be to be abolished in the next decade. Alternatives, such as electric vehicles, are already available. However the price of electric vehicles means that they are unaffordable for most people. In addition, many people are forced to rent flats or multi occupancy homes and so it will be very difficult for them to be able to recharge their car at home. A shift to electric vehicles without any other changes would create a near impenetrable barrier for ordinary people to own a car. Under a just transition, the shift to electric vehicles would be done alongside improvements to public transport and price subsidies so that those who need to travel would still be able to do so.

Another example is food. An increasing number of people are going ‘flexitarian’ – going partly vegetarian but eating meat on some days. This may well be something that all people need to do in the future. Our fast food culture means that it is often cheaper (not to mention quicker) to feed a family with burgers, fried chicken or similar. A shift to a predominantly vegetarian diet would create a burden on those with the least free time available. Some vegan companies are seeking to imitate meat with vegetable products, looking to reproduce the look, smell, taste and texture of meat. Some of these imitations are now incredibly accurate, but the tone and effort involved comes with a cost that means they are outside of the price tag of ordinary people for their daily shopping. A just transition would require vegetarian fast food equivalents to be locally available and affordable.

A major flaw in the position of other groups is that they are looking for the capitalist system to be able to provide a just transition. Capitalism is incapable of addressing the current problems created by climate change. We’ve repeatedly seen the failures of capitalism to deliver for ordinary people. It’s ordinary people that see their homes destroyed by wildfires or so called once in a generation flooding. Its ordinary people that suffer droughts as existing waterways are redirected for agriculture or for bottled water. Its ordinary people that suffer famine as land is used for crops to be exported. We can’t have any reliance on capitalism to deliver a just transition for ordinary people as things get tougher due to climate change.

Socialist Change to Fight Climate Change!

As socialists we seek a society that provides for everyone, not simply the 1% and 0.1%. This means building homes for all that provide adequate space for families, that are energy efficient making use of solar power and rainwater to minimise their environmental impact. It means providing fully funded and resourced public services, especially the emergency services that are desperately needed to respond to the more frequent extreme weather events. It means flood defences, provision of shelters. It means vehicles that don’t rely on internal combustion.

But the individual impacts on climate change are tiny compared to the impacts of business. It is necessary to take control of the biggest businesses to make any noticeable differences. We would need to control finance to halt funding into damaging activities. We would need to control food production and retailers to halt competition that leads to waste, so that land could be freed up to be available for environmentally useful activity like planting trees. It means providing a healthier diet that isn’t reliant on fast food so that livestock production could be lower. It means control of UK utilities like water and electricity to make them less wasteful and to invest to modern standards so that we can maximise use of renewables. It means planned production so that reliance on transport of goods across borders is reduced.

Many people fear that these changes could cost them their jobs. This is likely to be true of their existing jobs, but experiences like the Lucas Plan have shown how many people have transferable skills that can be used to facilitate a more environmentally friendly society. Moving to this society would create highly skilled and fulfilling jobs, as shown by the 1,000,000 climate jobs plan created by the PCS union, led by Socialist Party member Chris Baugh, who was the then Assistant General Secretary of PCS. But this sort of radical planning and change won’t be possible or desirable under a capitalist system. Only a Socialist system is capable of delivering the dramatic changes required to address climate change immediately and permanently.

Why I rejoined the Socialist Party

In Labour I was a fish out of water

Mary Medd, Coventry Socialist Party – in The Socialist Issue 1145

I could very much identify with the article by Steve Merriman (see ‘Labour v Socialist Party – my experience is seismic’). I have been a supporter of the Socialist Party since the 1990s, and always voted for their candidates.

However, when Jeremy Corbyn became the Labour leader, I joined the Labour Party, believing it would at last be reflecting my socialist beliefs. I hoped to become an active member, but after attending only a couple of local meetings, I realised I was a fish out of water.

Throughout this period, my Socialist Party comrades remained in touch, and would regularly deliver the Socialist and chat, even during the pandemic.

I tried to see the best in Keir Starmer. But I knew I had to leave Labour, and be true to my beliefs.

I rejoined the Socialist Party, and regularly attend branch meetings, where a variety of issues are debated each week. Contributions are welcome from all, with suggestions for further debates.

Although I am now retired, and not physically involved with workplace issues, it is good to hear from younger people active in the trade union movement, as I once was, fighting for workers’ rights. I would recommend the Socialist Party to all those on the left who are seeking a political home.


Tens of thousands of people who joined Labour because of Jeremy Corbyn have now left -or been kicked out- after Keir Starmer became leader and Labour’s right wing set about re-establishing Labour as a party of capitalism.

If Mary’s and Steve’s experiences of Labour sound like yours, if you want to be part of an organisation that really wants to build the fight for socialism, get in touch!

The Audacity Of This Leaflet! Earlsdon Socialist Candidate Calls Out Labour Library Hypocrisy

Written by Adam Harmsworth, Socialist Party member and TUSC councillor candidate for Earlsdon Ward.

Thanks to Tory austerity passed on by the Labour council, Coventry’s libraries have faced closures, staff cuts, opening time cuts, funding cuts. Earlsdon library is one that had its funding cut, and Socialist Party members were part of the protests battling for it to remain open and fully funded.

Dozens of youth and library staff protest closures.

So. I’m quite surprised by the audacity of Labour’s Earlsdon leaflet, calling the library a ‘vital resource’ which has ‘done our community proud’.

I agree entirely, I just… wonder why a vital resource was subject to cuts and repeatedly had its future threatened over the past few years, by Labour?

The leaflet continues “Your local Labour team is focused on supporting the trustees”. Let’s remind Coventry Labour councillors of their record.

Labour’s Earlsdon leaflet, alleging their support for Earlsdon’s Library. Some audacity!

To quote from Coventry Telegraph directly: “In 2016 Coventry Council had given Earlsdon residents the option of running their own library voluntarily, or seeing it permanently shut” [read the article yourself here]

Then in July 2018 [yes less than three years ago!] the library nearly closed because the council demanded the former trustees cough up to lease the building back from the council! Even when a new group of volunteers got an agreement to keep things going, the article points out the severe lack of staffing and limited opening hours.

Sarah Smith, co-founder & full-time campaigner for Save Coventry Libraries, is TUSC candidate for Woodlands Ward for the 3rd time and has said the following:

“In January 2015, Coventry city council announced they were going to close every Library in Coventry.

Soon after this save Coventry Libraries campaign was formed by Sarah Smith, Nicki Downes & Jane Nellist. Since 2015, Save Coventry Libraries has been campaigning to save Libraries in Coventry. Unfortunately, the mobile service was scrapped. Arena Park Library was closed Earlsdon, Finham & Cheylesmore Libraries have been handed over to volunteers.

When Earlsdon library was handed over to volunteers, it was closed continually for about a year, when it did open it was only open a few hours on a weekday, also lacked stock. The government nor local Council have done research into the impact or sustainability of Libraries run by volunteers/ community groups. As a Campaigner I have conducted my own research & found the average lifespan of a volunteer/community group led Libraries are around 18 months.

Of course some break the model but almost all are closed for long periods, lack stock & have safeguarding concerns for example the volunteers having to work alone & have to wear a rape alarm. Save Coventry Libraries will campaign not only save Libraries but its Librarians.”

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The 2016 protest in front of Earlsdon Library when its future was threatened.

Its bare-faced hypocrisy from the council.

Lets put it simply – Coventry Labour council doesn’t really care about Earlsdon library. Or any of the libraries they’ve slashed funding to while keeping tens of millions of pounds in reserves and doing nothing to oppose the cuts from central government.

That’s exactly why anti-cuts campaigners are standing in the May council election under the TUSC banner.

There might not be any major cuts this year, but the council refuses to reverse the damage that has been done. And won’t do anything to prevent more cuts.

We don’t need empty platitudes and already-broken promises for our public services, we need political action to push back the decade of cruel austerity.

As our election leaflet says:

This election is a chance to elect councillors who’ll take the fight to the Tories and bosses.

Falsely, Labour councils pretend they have no choice but to make cuts demanded by government.

Unlike Tory-lite Labour councillors, socialist councillors will resist austerity rather than pass on cuts.

We’d be a voice for local people against austerity, greedy landlords, privatisation and closures.

If councils put up a fight, setting no cuts budgets, they could force yet another Tory U-turn and win the funding our communities desperately need.

Working people need a voice, a party of our own. The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) set up to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand together against the pro-austerity establishment parties. It is a beginning – a step towards the kind of party we need to deliver a socialist alternative to austerity.

Four Thousand Say Scrap Parking Charges At Walsgrave Hospital!

Recently our campaign to scrap the parking charges at UHCW reached the incredible milestone of 4000 signatures!

For years we have been running stalls across Coventry with our petition, rallying ordinary people in Coventry of whom the vast, vast majority agree that parking at the hospital should be free.

And why shouldn’t it be? The point of the NHS is that it is free at point of use! Hundreds of billions of pounds goes into an incredible health service, and then we’re asked to pay up-front if we need to drive to hospital? With millions in poverty and counting pennies, many have to walk long distances, cut the time they spend with loved ones, or even avoid going to hospital at all because of the up-front costs. And that isn’t speculation; we know this is fact from the experiences we have heard directly from workers and residents in Coventry on our campaigning stalls.

In Wales and most of Scotland you wouldn’t have these horrendous and even heart-breaking situations. Because Wales scrapped its parking charges in 2018, and Scotland in 2008 with the exception of their PFI hospitals!

And there is precisely the problem.

The Private Finance Initiative gives a private company the contract to run the car park, and pretty much gives them control over the charges. So of course the private company wants to make however much it can, no matter how many families it keeps apart, how many personal budgets it breaks, how many it keep away from seeking treatment, and how many NHS staff -our heroes- are forced to look for another job so they can stop going to the foodbank!

And at Walsgrave the profits are astronomical.

Coventry Telegraph reported that the car parks across Cov and Warwickshire hospitals cost about £1m to run – but they make £8m from the charges! Every time you pay £8 for parking, £7 goes right into the pocket of a company. As many have said while signing on our stalls, it is disgusting!

That’s why our petition not only calls for the parking charges to be scrapped, but also for the car park to be taken off the private company that runs it for profit and put back into public ownership. The problem isn’t that one particular company runs the car park badly; the whole profit motive that drives the ruthless capitalist machine means that ANY private firm will rip off ordinary people to make as much money as possible. They aren’t accountable to us, only to their bosses and shareholders.

Which is why across the country, PFI deals are VERY expensive. LocalGov says “in January [2018] the National Audit Office reported that there were currently more than 700 PFI and PF2 deals with a capital value of around £60bn and annual charges amounting to £10.3bn in 2016-17. Even if no new deals are entered into, the NAO said, future charges which continue until the 2040s amount to £199bn.”

The PFI deal for UHCW itself is an atrocity. To quote Coventry Telegraph in 2019, “Despite the initial investments for Coventry’s NHS Trust being worth only £379 million, the trust will have paid back an estimated £3.7billion by the time the contracts are up – almost ten times the initial money.” The annual costs mean that an EIGHTH of UHCW’s entire budget goes to private profiteers who made their investment back years ago!

The Walsgrave Car Park PFI alone is harming so many people. That’s why in July last year we pledged to redouble our efforts, and now with over 4000 signatures we are going to keep up that fight!

Help us build that fight – join the socialists or find out more!

Come to the TUSC Local Elections Conference!

The Covid crisis has revealed many things about our society – including how the vast wealth that exists in the UK can be drawn upon to serve public needs when sufficient pressure is applied.
The Tory government – despite being based on Thatcher’s ‘the free market rules’ ideology – has made U-turn after U-turn against the background of growing anger and public outcry.

So many things ridiculed before as impossible or not realistic have been enacted, even if sometimes in a limited and incomplete way. At the start of the spring lockdown the government, in effect, nationalised the railways and other forms of transport to keep the system going. Over the course of one weekend councils were instructed to provide accommodation for all those living on the streets.
Now, it is true, homelessness is rising again and private companies are still embedded in the transport system.
But nonetheless such measures have demonstrated that, when under pressure, even a government of the rich can be forced into making huge concessions in the interests of ordinary people.
And local councils could play a leading role in building that pressure – if there were councillors in them prepared to fight!

Labour leads over 120 councils, with a combined spending power greater than the state budgets of 16 EU countries.
But Starmer’s Labour cannot be trusted to stand up for ordinary people. That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is preparing to stand across the UK this May in the many elections taking place.
Even one councillor in a local authority taking a stand, if they used their position in the council chamber to appeal to those outside, could give confidence to local trade unionists and community campaigners to fight.
A network of rebel councillors across the country could have an even bigger impact in fighting for what is needed to meet the Covid crisis.

Come to the TUSC local elections conference to be held on Zoom on Sunday 7 February to help organise a fightback at the ballot box this May – or whenever the elections take place.
Conference registration
You can register in advance for this meeting: http://bit.ly/TUSCconferenceregistration.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

You can also just login into the meeting on the day as usual but you will still be asked for registration details on entering the zoom meeting details.

So try and either pre-register or leave a few mins to fill out the online form.
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82896595909?pwd=OVE5RjNmbjJJcG1vd0RxZ0JyQ2RkUT09
Meeting ID: 828 9659 5909
Passcode: 645766

Spread the word!
You can help build for the event, first by saying you are Going on our Facebook event: http://bit.ly/TUSCconf21
And then by inviting your friends and union and work colleagues, either on Facebook or by telling them about it.

A lot of people, especially trade unionists and young people, have been let down by Starmer’s Labour and are looking for a serious alternative.
We’re building that alternative in TUSC, and each extra attendee hearing from trade union and socialist representatives and learning how to get involved helps develop TUSC even further.

Peace and Justice Project article and Defend Corbyn Protest report

Since Jeremy Corbyn resigned as Labour leader, hundreds of thousands of people who supported him and his programme have had to question what the way forward is for socialist ideas. When Jeremy was suspended from Labour, this question rose to the fore again, and again when he launched the Peace and Justice Project.

Here you can find a response to the Peace and Justice Project by the Socialist Party’s General Secretary, Hannah Sell:

Peace and Justice Project – no way forward for socialism

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is holding its Local Election Conference on Sunday 7th February 11am to 1:30pm. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear about the electoral fight against Starmer’s new New Labour. Click here for the Facebook event – there is a link to register in the Description.

Not heard of TUSC? Click here to find out more!


Below is a report from the protest in Coventry after Corbyn’s suspension.

Coventry Corbyn Solidarity Protest: stay and fight, or a new workers party?

By Michael Morgan, Coventry Socialist Party

On Tuesday the 3rd of November members of Coventry Socialist Party attended a protest organised by Coventry Labour Left in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, following his suspension from the Labour Party. The protest was relatively small with around 30 in attendance, many of whom were members of left wing organisations involved.

Two approaches to the issue arose at the protest. All were in agreement that no, Jeremy Corbyn was not an anti-Semite, and that the capitalist media and the right wing of the Labour Party had led a concerted effort to smear him as such. Jeremy Corbyn was indeed one of the country’s most ardent fighters against racism.

However, some on the Labour left, as well as some from other left wing organisations that operate within the labour party, argued for their ‘stay and fight’ position. This included members of Coventry Labour Left, Zarah Sultana in the form of a message read on her behalf and others. These speakers argued that the Labour Party is a mass organ of the working class, and that the lefts best course of action would be to petition the general secretary of the party (right winger, Starmer backed David Evans) and even to vote in National Executive Committee elections to fight for Corbyn’s reinstatement!

The Socialist Party argues that these measures do not go nearly far enough. In effect this argument is one of continuing to feed the mouth that bit you. To plead to the functions of the Labour Party and its officialdom to right a wrong they committed regardless of the actual findings of the EHRC report or of the Labour party’s rules is a strategy doomed to fail; if Starmer cared for the rules Corbyn would still be in the party!

This is why the Socialist Party argues for a new workers’ party through the Trade Union Socialist Coalition, a political party made up of local campaigners, activists and trade unionists. Labour is not a party of the working class. Jeremy Corbyn presented a great opportunity to democratise the party’s structures, to institute mandatory reselection and to reform Labour councils like the one in Coventry, which charges SEND pupils up to £600 per year to get to school. Yet this opportunity was not taken, and at some point that goes from being a political mistake to being politically disastrous as Corbyn has seen.

We need real working people to take political control and believe this is better done through a mass workers’ party than through Starmer’s Labour. We spoke at the protest to outline this message and handed out leaflets and sold several papers to passers by who took an interest in our ideas. 


Help us bring the challenge to Starmer’s Labour and build a new mass workers’ party!

You might be thinking about joining the Socialist Party, and the best step towards that is clicking below for a sign up form.w

Or at the moment you might be more interested in helping real anti-cuts campaigners challenge pro-austerity Blairite councillors in the May elections. The best step towards that is supporting TUSC!

Report: Fight the Housing Crisis – a Socialist Programme For Decent Homes For All

By Michael Morgan, Coventry Socialist Party

On Tuesday, Coventry Socialist Party held a public meeting over zoom on the issue of housing. This was in commemoration to the 9th anniversary of the passing of Rob Windsor, a former socialist councillor in the city who amongst many other hard-fought campaigns also campaigned against the privatisation of Coventry’s council housing which has proved to be such a disaster for the city. 

We were joined by Suzanne Muna, formerly the secretary of a Unite housing workers branch (and still on the committee), communications officer for SHAC (a network of tenants, residents, and workers in housing associations and cooperatives) and formerly a member of Unite the unions executive also.

She described how the privatisation of former council homes, as well as the role of housing associations in the lack of comfortable, genuinely affordable accommodation in the city.  She also raised the issue of homelessness – pointing to the massive amounts of empty homes across the UK which go empty whilst accruing value for landlords who let them go empty. 

The best way to solve these issues of empty houses and a lack of affordable accommodation is for affordable council housing to be made on a mass scale again. 

With the relaunch of TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition) the Socialist Party will work with trade unionists and community activists, such as those in tenants’ associations, to put housing at the forefront of our programme in the May elections. After the second world war housing was built on a mass scale to the needs of the community, and in Liverpool in the 1980s the Militant-led Labour city council built housing in a similar fashion. Not only were houses built, but community centres and halls to ensure communities could grow around new housing developments. 

The discussion following from Suzanne’s talk was also important. With attendees talking about personal experiences of low quality and unaffordable housing. New developments in Coventry south were also discussed— where 1300 homes will be made – as attendees criticised the lack of affordable housing which will be mad available in the development. 

Coventry Socialist Party will soon be posting an article on homelessness following this meeting, and will take the issues forward into the May elections through TUSC. 

Socialist Policies Could Mean Decent Housing For All

Tuesday 26th January 7:30pm (contact us for zoom link) with Suzanne Muna

Click here for the Facebook event

As millions face a housing crisis hear how a socialist housing policy could solve the problem.

To celebrate and pay tribute to the memory of one of our leading members, Rob Windsor, we have organised a special meeting on this topic that was a prime motivator for Rob.

Since his passing 9 years ago, the problems that he and Coventry Socialist Party fought so tenaciously have only become worse as the ‘market’ proves increasingly unable to provide a basic human right – that of a decent, secure home.  

We have invited another prominent housing campaigner to speak to a meeting on 26 January

Suzanne Muna was formerly a member of Unite the union’s executive, is secretary of Unite Housing Workers branch and communications officer for SHAC (a network of tenants, residents, and workers in housing associations and cooperatives)

9 Years Since The Passing Of Rob Windsor

January 2021 marks the 9th anniversary of the passing of former leader of the great Anti Poll Tax struggle and Coventry City Socialist councillor, Rob Windsor.

Rob’s passing was a tremendous loss to the Socialist Party. He had been an inspiring spokesperson and organiser for our Party, a man who had literally helped thousands and was loved by his active colleagues and comrades.

He was a national leader of the Anti-Poll Tax campaign that brought down Thatcher, he was an extremely hard working and effective councillor, but he was also our leader of the campaign in Coventry to stop the privatisation of Coventry’s council housing – a policy of the Labour council that has only worsened the housing problem in our city.

Read our tribute to Rob from 2015 here: Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

As he himself would have been first to say, it is not our job to mourn but to organise. Organise to fight for housing and to change the system that provides for the needs of working people so poorly.

We hope to do that in this meeting and we hope you will join us.

NEW LOCKDOWN MEASURES

TORIES LEAVE IT LATE AGAIN – BUT THEIR HAND IS FORCED BY EDUCATION WORKERS ACTION!

While the government has yet again taken far too long to face up to the loss of control of coronavirus, tens and tens of thousands of education workers have said enough is enough.

Boris Johnson and his shower of incompetents have been forced, belatedly, to take further action to combat coronavirus. On Sunday he insisted all schools open, by Monday they’re all shut!

Johnson’s failures are having such serious consequences for so many people, and while it may be some consolation to know he has egg all over his face, it’s not just consolation we need, but to take confidence from the workers’ action, to learn from the people who know best and fought back.

Johnson was forced to retreat not by the science, but by the action of teachers and support workers.

Teachers by the tens of thousands refused to continue to work in unsafe conditions, and only to return when it was made safe. Not that you’d know about this from the media. Teachers’ mobilisation, involving up to 400,000 in union discussions about lack of safety and refusing to work in those conditions, closed hundreds of schools but was largely ignored by the media.

Johnson was forced to admit that schools are ‘a vector’ in the virus spreading. Something that while the government tried to deny it, the world and its auntie have known for months!

But he was forced to act because the public were aware the situation was getting very dangerous and that as teachers refused to work in such conditions and local authorities were closing schools anyway that it would leave him in London in control of nothing. Workers action has now given a clear lead.

We see in this the importance of a union for working people, giving workers the confidence to write in with Section 44 letters (that declare the worker believes the workplace to be unsafe.)   


Below are some reports to ‘The Socialist’ newspaper of how education workers organised.

Local Officers, reps and members have been working flat out since the call was made by the NEU (National Education Union) that staff should assert their contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work. As well as school, District and Regional meetings, the NEU estimate as many as 400,000 people may have watched this morning’s National Union ‘Zoom’ call – either directly or through social media broadcasts.

Union activists have been so busy talking to members, answering queries and building the campaign that there has been little opportunity (to report) the work being carried out. These brief reports hopefully give you a flavour of what’s been happening right across the Union:

As Headteacher, I have received 50 Section 44 letters from teachers and support staff today.

Some staff were already either shielding or self-isolating in any case. I have obviously responded by informing parents that the school will be closed tomorrow. It looks like a number of Southampton schools are closing. Support from the leader of the council has helped.

* UPDATE ON MONDAY MORNING – 31 Southampton primary schools closed = about two-thirds of them!

Liz Filer, Southampton NEU

Lots of primaries will be closed in Bristol.

My own school was up to 22 staff on a Section 44 letter when it was announced it will be closed to everyone tomorrow and then there will be remote learning for at least the rest of the week. I’ve also had 10 new names appear on my membership list, including several support staff who have never been unionised before.

Sheila Caffrey, Bristol NEU

Coventry saw over 300 members join an online meeting.

We have recruited more reps and members have grown in confidence.  A number of schools are fully closed and more are partially closed. This is a great start to the campaign. The response of the Local Authority has angered many members, being told that schools are safe whilst the data on Covid cases has increased by over 50% in a short period of time.

Jane Nellist, Coventry NEU

I have spoken to eight Multi Academy Trust CEOs. All bar one were very supportive of our stance.

Over 100 members attended our District ‘Zoom’ meeting this afternoon. We also invited the UNISON convenor to attend and that helped to strengthen the resolve of our members. We’ve already gained 27 new members since the union came out fighting.

Mike Whale, Hull NEU

Responding to a growing anxiety about the return to school, I worked as part of the senior leadership team to review and tighten up our risk assessment. However, given the growing risks (we) felt this would be insufficient to guarantee staff safety. After the national NEU rep’s briefing on Saturday, our school rep organised a members meeting. All 17 of our members (including 3 former NASUWT members) agreed to sign the S44 letter. We decided to contact and share the letter with all school staff. Within an hour we had 50 names on it!

Staff were keen to sign, given confidence by the union taking a stand. Our Head, fully respected the views of the staff and the school has moved to online learning as per NEU recommendations for the next 2 weeks at least. Even Tory-led Norfolk Council has now issued advice saying that “as a head teacher you may find it difficult to be certain that you will have sufficient staff to open safely on Monday”. At the latest count, I already know of over 50 local primary schools who will not be opening – and the list is being added to all the time!

From a NEU member in Norfolk

Why we supported the education workers: A fuller explanation of the education workers view….


Organise a mass refusal to attend unsafe schools on Monday

Posted on 2 January 2021 [https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31785]

Our schools and colleges are not safe.

Full classrooms provide an environment where the new variant will quickly spread. No member of staff and no pupil should have to work in such dangerous conditions. That’s why, to protect their safety, and the safety of their wider school community, school union groups should boldly make clear this weekend that they are not prepared to return to work until safety can be assured.

For months, the Government has been ignoring growing evidence that school aged children have high levels of infection and that poorly ventilated, closely packed, schools have been an important factor in the spread of Covid-19.

Keeping schools fully open has nothing to do with keeping children safe. Instead it has put more lives in danger, more pressure on an overwhelmed NHS, more chaotic disruption in schools.

Before Christmas, even their own scientific advisers warned Ministers that “accumulating evidence is consistent with increased transmission occurring amongst school children when schools are open”. Yet the Department for Education still insisted on bullying Councils like Greenwich into keeping their schools open. Now these bullies have to be faced down.

With the full opening of secondary schools delayed by a week, the immediate battleground is in primary, nursery and special schools.  With the new, more contagious, variant of the virus spreading quickly amongst young people in particular, even this Government has been forced to concede that primary schools in London and some other South-East authorities do not open fully at the start of term. But, as things stand, most school staff still face entering an unsafe workplace on Monday – and the virus doesn’t respect geographical boundaries.

Insisting workers enter an unsafe workplace, and without risk assessments in place that address the new dangers from the new variant, is a breach of Health and Safety. That’s why the National Education Union met in emergency session today (Sat 2nd Jan) and agreed it will be calling on members in primary and special schools to exercise their rights under “Section 44” and that the Union will support them in doing so, including through balloting for industrial action if necessary. Letters will be sent to all employers by the Union.

Members will be advised to insist on a new risk assessment and that they are available to work in school to teach key worker and vulnerable children only or, otherwise, work from home to support remote learning.

This is a very significant step and one that now needs to be fully backed by the trade union movement. It should also be replicated by UNISON, GMB, NASUWT and other school unions.

By failing to act earlier in this decisive manner, the NEU has left itself with a very short timescale to get this message across to its members and to give them confidence to act. Nevertheless, it is a stand that has to be taken given the serious dangers facing all of us.