Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Around 60 protesters lobbied Coventry Council today in protest at their planned cuts to disabled children’s transport to school. These cuts could leave many children unable to get to school, as many families may be unable to pay for the transport required. Activists from the Socialist Party,the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students attended the demonstration, which was organised by Eleanor Lisney, a local campaigner and member of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Coventry’s Labour Council is choosing to carry out Tory cuts rather than fighting back and passing a budget that meets the needs of the people of Coventry.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

They should use some of the £81million they have in reserves to fund services temporarily, while building a campaign with service users, trade unions and community groups to demand central Government provides the money to fund the services we need.

For coverage in the Coventry Telegraph click here

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A letter from America – solidarity with the NHS strike

A letter from America – solidarity with the NHS strike

Defend the NHS!

Defend the NHS!

We are proud to publish this letter from a health care worker and trade unionist from the United States regarding the strike in the National Health Service on Monday 24th November. The letter highlights the inequalities present in the healthcare system under capitalism particularly in the United States. We urge you to read the letter, share it on social media and amongst workmates, friends and family. Under capitalism any gains for working class people such as the NHS will constantly be under threat, that is why we in the Socialist Party fight for a socialist society – if you agree, why not join us? Click here to apply to join

Letter from a health worker in the United States

Fight for decent pay!

Healthcare should be about patient care – not profits!

The current offer – for only some NHS workers in England to receive a 1% one off payment is an insult to the work that nurses and other health professionals do. It will only discourage bright, young, energetic people from entering the field and push those with experience working in the field out. The job can be both highly rewarding, yet also very stressful and dangerous (with patients attacking staff more frequently than many people realize). NHS workers should not be living in poverty and deserve to at least keep their pay up with inflation!

The chaotic profit-oriented nature of the U.S. healthcare system shows what can happen if the NHS is allowed to be privatized. In Dallas in October a man recently arrived from Liberia without health insurance was sent home from the emergency room with tylenol and antibiotics for his fever. It turned out he had ebola! Hospitals in the U.S. have a strong incentive not to admit patients who don’t have health insurance. When he came back and was admitted, two of the nurses caring for him contracted ebola. It turns out the hospital not only didn’t have full body protective equipment for the nurses, they also weren’t trained on the equipment they had and the nurses were also taking care of other patients at the same time! This shows how quickly hospitals will cut corners with our and our patients’ health and safety in the interest of saving a dollar.

When someone without insurance is admitted to a hospital, it can mean their financial ruin. A woman from Canada recently gave birth in the U.S. when she went into labor early while on vacation. She received a $1 million hospital bill! The leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by medical bills. While Obama’s Affordable Care Act has made it easier for some people to get health insurance, for those who have quality health insurance through their job (like many nurses), the employers (and ultimately employees) will be forced to pay an additional expensive tax on their plans intended to discourage quality health insurance plans from existing!

Many nurses in the U.S. are relatively well paid and usually have health insurance and retirement benefits through their job. This has nothing to do with the private healthcare system in my opinion and everything to do with having unions in many parts of the country who have fought back and defeated attacks on health insurance, retirement, and have frequently gotten raises that keep up with inflation. After a national day of action for ebola safety on November 12th, which included strikes in California and Washington, D.C., mandatory guidelines for high standard ebola protection gear – in line with what the union was demanding – were instituted in the state of California. This recent example shows that it is worth organizing and going on strike when necessary! When we fight – we win!

Katie Quarles, RN

Shop Steward with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) at United Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota (personal capacity)

Labour Council plans to close 100 essential local centres

Labour Council plans to close 100 essential local centres

Coventry City Council plans more cuts

Coventry City Council plans more cuts

 

Coventry’ Labour Council has announced it is to close almost every children and family centre, community centre, play centre, adult education centre, library and suburban office in the city.

The plan, called City Centre First, should be renamed ‘City of London First’ as it’s an abject surrender to an austerity agenda seeking to force working class people and their families to pay for the gambling and speculation of the banks.

City Centre First will rip the heart out of virtually every community in Coventry. It reverses decades of investment from the Council Tax of hundreds of thousands of Coventry residents, into our communities, our neighbourhoods. Hardly a family in the city will be untouched as dozens of public facilities close, and as the few remaining services are re-located, for some, many miles away.

Closures are not necessary

These cuts and closures are not necessary. And it isn’t ‘the only way to deliver a balanced budget’ as has been claimed by Labour’s finance chief, Cllr Damian Gannon.

Coventry Council has reserves of tens of millions of pounds – much of it put aside to fund staff redundancies, to pay for the axing of another 1000 jobs that will then never be available to young people in our city. A proportion of those reserves should be used to preserve jobs and services and offset the shortfall in government funding. This would buy time whilst the Council mounts a serious campaign for the Government to properly fund our essential local services. Council unions should offer to work with the Council in a joint campaign for funding for the needs of the city – but be prepared to take resolute action against the Council if they continue with their plan of surrender.

Cuts and closures must be challenged

Labour seem to have given up the fight without ever engaging the enemy. When the Tories say “jump”, they merely ask “how high?” They no longer challenge whether widespread swingeing cuts are necessary, only ­how they are to be implemented.  Unlike the success of socialist Liverpool in the mid-1980s (when the equivalent of nearly £90 million extra funding was won by a Labour council from Mrs Thatcher), this generation of Labour councillors see no prospect of changing a Tory government’s mind (and David Cameron is no Mrs Thatcher!).

And unlike previous generations of Coventry Labour councillors, such as led by Cllr Arthur Waugh Snr in the 1970s who, when faced with demands for making government cuts into local services, organised a meeting in St Mary’s Hall of Labour council leaders from all around the country to stand together and tell the then Labour Government that cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund had to be opposed. Today, each Labour council around the country is making similar cuts, instead of standing up to the Tory bullies.

Whoever wins the General Election, working people will suffer

You would think that Labour would be explaining that this was all the Tories’ fault, and that if Labour wins the election next May then the rot would stop and the onslaught of cuts would be reversed. But no; Coventry Labour council assumes that even if their party wins the General Election, Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has promised to match Tory spending cuts £ for £. The demands for service cuts in Coventry in 2016 and 2017 will continue and, whoever wins the General Election, rise to £65 million a year in 3 years’ time.  Indeed the Council report announcing these cuts and closures makes these predictions based on “the Government’s June 2013 Spending Round and subsequent indicative announcements of the main political parties nationally”.

In other words it doesn’t matter which of the 4 main national parties you vote for next May, all the national establishment parties are agreed that our local services should be sacrificed to settle the bankers’ debts.  And equally it doesn’t matter if the cuts are made enthusiastically by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in London, or with a heavy heart by Labour in Coventry, they will hurt just the same.

If Coventry Labour councillors are not prepared to fight, they should stand aside and let people on the Council who are willing to fight for Coventry.

Campaigns

100 essential local centres are targeted for closure, and out of many of those will come campaigns of angry local people, parents, service users and staff determined to save their local service. But, scandalously, Labour have said that they might not even consult those local people about these plans because, according to the Coventry Telegraph, ‘the closures were viewed as inevitable’. That will be strongly challenged.

And the closures themselves are not inevitable. Local people can force changes in agendas. Petitions, local meetings, delegations to councillors, lobbies of the city council itself – all will be used to press for a change in direction. But if the success in saving one library or community centre is not to mean that something else gets cut even more elsewhere, local cuts campaigns will have to come together in a citywide body and challenge the whole strategy of accepting massive central government funding cuts without question. To get that change means electing people onto the Council who are prepared to fight.

TUSC – the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

The Socialist Party and our partners in TUSC will work with communities, service users and staff in Coventry, and support each and every campaign seeking to save a local service. As part of our work we will discuss with local campaigns and argue that they should put up anti-cuts candidates in every ward in the city next May, standing under the TUSC umbrella alongside over 1000 similar anti-cuts candidates around the country, all pledged to save local services.

By standing in such large numbers we begin to take that fight to London, and begin to force the media to broaden the debate beyond the speed of cuts, to whether cuts should take place at all!

And if voting Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP all mean largely the same diet of cuts to our family services, so that their banker friends can carry on receiving bonuses, then TUSC will mount the largest left of Labour General Election challenge across the whole country seen since the Second World War.

We need a new politics

The cuts aren’t necessary. The rich individuals and corporations presently avoiding or evading £120 billion a year in taxation should be made to pay – not child and family centres, libraries and youth clubs. We have to shift the argument back from ‘how-to’ implement the cuts, to ‘whether’ cuts should be implemented at all.

We need a new politics in this country and TUSC is determined to build one, rooted in the organisations and communities of the working class. Help us challenge the overlapping austerity agenda of the big establishment parties, and build a new political force that doesn’t ignore working people nor leave them behind.

Dave Nellist

National Chair TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

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