Over 100 people join Coventry protest against austerity

Over 100 people join Coventry protest against austerity

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Over 100 people marched through Coventry on Wednesday in a protest against the austerity measures announced at the opening of Parliament. The protest, organised by campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs and supported by a number of groups and trade unions, had speakers from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), the People’s Assembly, Coventry City Unison and Coventry TUC.

The march around the City Centre was loud and energetic, with chants of “no ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts” and “if you hate the Tory Party clap your hands”! People were there from a number of different campaigns such as Coventry against the Bedroom Tax, Save the NHS campaigners from 38 Degrees,  workplaces, schools and colleges, as well as a number of people who had travelled from outside the city – from Leamington, Nuneaton and Bedworth. A number of people were on their first protest and a common remark was ‘it is time to do something’.

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The protest was mainly built using social media, with the turnout showing some of the anger people feel at the prospect of “five more damned years” of austerity.

Kris O’Sullivan, president of Coventry Socialist Students, spoke about the importance of solidarity over the next five years of austerity, giving the example of socialist activists and local residents preventing bedroom tax victim Archie Millar from being evicted.

One young woman, Steph, spoke passionately about her experiences of working on a zero-hour contract while trying to study – she was forced to leave her job after having to work 9 hour shifts without a break.

Young people protesting against Tory cuts to their future

Young people protesting against Tory cuts to their future

Speakers  talked about the need for a mass turnout on the People’s Assembly demonstration in London on 20th June – coaches are going from Coventry and everyone should book a place!

One attendee at the Coventry protest, Peter, a retired worker from Holbrooks asked ‘Where are the Labour councillors? They should be here protesting against the Tories!’ It was true, once again local councillors, our representatives were completely absent from a protest against austerity.

TUSC candidate for Sherbourne, Jason Toynbee, closed the rally with a speech about the need to build an alternative to austerity – whether it’s being implemented by Labour or the Tories.

Unison members marching against austerity

Unison members marching against austerity

The point made by Jason and others was key. Austerity is going to be the ‘new normal’. We face the battle of our lives to beat back the attacks that our coming. We need more and bigger protests. It is abundantly clear that the only future that capitalism offers is one of austerity cuts, attacks on working class people and closure of vital services  – whilst the rich continue to make huge profits. We need to fight capitalism – we think the best way to do that is to fight for a different type of system, a socialist society that puts people before profit, our lives before the needs of the super rich. Help us build this movement, it really is time to get involved!

Fill in the form below to get involved!

Why we’re protesting against austerity

Why we’re protesting against austerity

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We asked some of the people supporting the anti-austerity protest in Coventry on Wednesday 27th at 5pm in Broadgate why they believe it is important to take part. The protest has been initiated by Youth Fight for Jobs and has the backing of Coventry TUC, Coventry Unison, and Coventry Peoples Assembly.

Here’s what they said.

Non Frenguelli, an 18 year old school student 

Non Frenguelli

Non Frenguelli

“I’m protesting, not only because of the Tories’ previous privatisations of vital services such as the Post Office and the outsourcing of disability benefits to ATOS whose “fitness-for-work” assessment has wreaked havoc for hundreds of disabled people, but also because of the recent announcement to sell £780million of the NHS to 11 private firms. From recent privatisations of the NHS we have seen that it is inefficient and provides poor treatment for patients, further privatisation will be a disaster for the public. Cameron has promised the world’s first seven day healthcare service but that’s an absolute joke if his current plans for mass privatisation go ahead unhindered. My friends and I will be at the protest to show our anger at the government’s austerity plans and to show solidarity to those who are suffering under his regime.”

Sarah Smith, campaigner against library closures

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

“I’m protesting because Coventry Council wants to close Tile Hill library, Sure Start centre and youth centre, which will rip the heart out of this community. Every library outside the City Centre is threatened with closure – we shouldn’t let them close any!”

Nicky Downes, local teacher and TUSC candidate

Nicky Downes

Nicky Downes

“I will be standing alongside young people and students at the protest on Wednesday in defence of education and city services. This government is blaming teachers and schools through unnecessary testing, slashing budgets and enforcing privatisation through academisation. It is doing nothing to improve the life chances of young people or to end child poverty. We did not vote them in and we will fight back against all cuts to jobs and services.”

Aidan O’Toole, a Coventry Uni student

Aidan protesting at Cov Uni

Aidan protesting at Cov Uni

“I’m supporting the protest because young people didn’t cause this crisis, but we’re paying for it. We’ve had tuition fees trebled, EMA taken away and housing benefit for young people slashed. Most of us can’t get jobs, and the jobs we can get are mostly low paid and on zero-hour contracts. Young people didn’t vote for Cameron’s austerity – but teenagers who can’t even vote are going to suffer because of him.”

The protest is on Wednesday May 27th at 5pm in Broadgate. Please join us and build the fightback against austerity!

We encourage people to attend the massive anti austerity demonstration in London on 20th June organised by the People’s Assembly. There will be transport from Coventry, get in touch to find out more.

To put an end to austerity we will need to build a socialist movement to end capitalism. To help us and to get involved, click here 

Dave Nellist thanks Coventry TUSC voters

Dave Nellist thanks Coventry TUSC voters

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

Former Labour MP and TUSC National Chair Dave Nellist

TUSC’s National Chair and Coventry North West candidate, Dave Nellist, had the letter below published in the Coventry Telegraph.

“Could I use your columns to thank all those people across Coventry and Warwickshire who voted against austerity, and for a socialist alternative, on May 7th.

Candidates from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) received 4388 votes in the Coventry Council elections, and 3052 across the three city parliamentary constituencies. Whilst clearly not yet sufficient to win a seat, given we are a relatively young formation – only 5 years old – we feel well-placed to build in the future. We were also pleased with the warm response we received in Nuneaton, Kenilworth, Rugby and wider Warwickshire.

Thousands of people in our area will now be in fear of the misery that a new majority Tory government will mete out. Swingeing and fast tracked welfare and public spending cuts can be expected in the coming weeks, with even more pressure placed on fire, police and local council services.

A new party with a 100% anti-austerity stance is urgently needed. Trade unions which gave millions of pounds to Labour in the run-up to the election will now be questioning how best to prepare to deal with the attacks of the next 5 years. In my view that should include a serious debate over whether Labour, with its lack of any proper opposition to austerity, is still the best vehicle for the trade union movement.

Hundreds of new supporters have contacted TUSC nationally since Thursday. If you’d like to get involved in the building of a new party feel free to ring me on (024) 7622 9311.”

Do you want to build an anti-austerity party? Fill in the form below!


Socialist campaigns continue after election

Socialist campaigns continue after election

TUSC candidates campaigning in Coventry

TUSC candidates campaigning in Coventry

Socialist candidates and campaigners were out in Coventry City Centre on Saturday continuing the fightback against austerity. We had petitions calling for an end to council cuts, a £10 an hour minimum wage and against parking charges at Walsgrave Hospital.

TUSC candidate for Coventry North East, Nicky Downes, said “Unlike the other parties we don’t stop campaigning on election day – we keep fighting all year round. The fightback against the Tories needs to continue, not wait until the next election!”

Socialist Party members hold campaign stalls every week. If you want to get involved, fill in the form below!

TUSC wins nearly 400 votes in Kenilworth

TUSC wins nearly 400 votes in Kenilworth

Non Frenguelli

Non Frenguelli

The first ever Socialist candidate in Kenilworth has received a fantastic 397 votes in the district and town council elections. Non Frenguelli, an 18 year old school student and Socialist Party member, said she stood because she wanted to give people of Abbey ward in Kenilworth an anti-austerity alternative to the “old Etonians” running the country.

Non was delighted with the result and said “For the first Socialist to ever stand in Kenilworth, I am pleased that we gained hundreds of votes. In the most unexpected of places people are fighting back against Tory austerity and realising there may be a genuine alternative out there. I would like to thank all of those who voted for me in these elections but we will now need to get organised.”

“Young people have been hit hard by austerity policies from both the Tories and Labour – whether they’re in low-paid jobs, on zero-hour contracts, affected by benefit cuts or hit by massive university fees. If you want to fight back, join the Socialist Party and get involved with TUSC!”

Did you vote for TUSC in Kenilworth? Would you like to join the Socialists and/or get involved (in Kenilworth or wherever you live!)? If so, fill in the form below!

Thank you for voting Socialist!

Thank you for voting Socialist!

Vote TUSC!

We’d like to thank all the people across Coventry who voted against austerity and for a socialist alternative yesterday. TUSC candidates received 4388 votes in the council elections and 3052 in the three parliamentary seats – a total of 7440 votes for Socialist candidates.

A full analysis of the election results will follow. TUSC candidates will continue our campaigns against the cuts, and we urge you to get involved!

Did you vote TUSC? Let us know! 

Vote against austerity today – vote TUSC!

Vote against austerity today – vote TUSC!

Vote TUSC!

Vote TUSC!

Voters in Coventry and across the country can vote against austerity, cuts and capitalism today. The mainstream parties and UKIP all think that ordinary people should pay for the crisis that the bosses, the bankers and the super-rich caused. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is the only party that’s 100% against austerity and pledges to vote against all cuts.

Vote for the socialist alternative – vote TUSC!

If you want to help the campaign in Coventry on election day, phone Lenny Shail on 07530429441.

Will you be voting for TUSC? let us know!

Museum staff forced to take pay cut

Museum staff forced to take pay cut

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Museum staff in Coventry – working for the trust that manages the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, the Transport Museum, Lunt Fort and the Priory Visitor Centre – are being forced to take a pay cut which could cost them up to £3000 a year.

Two weeks ago all staff of Culture Coventry were given a letter from the Chief Executive, Gary Hall, saying that they had to sign to accept new terms of employment by 5th May or their contracts would be terminated, and they would only be offered their jobs back under the new terms.

Dave Nellist, of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, who first raised the matter publicly at a memorial service attended by councillors and held adjacent to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum on April 28, said today:

“The new contract scraps flexitime and enhanced payment for weekend and evening work. As the nature of the museums is to be open 7 days a week plus special events, staff have relied on shift and unsocial hours money as part of their earnings. Many workers face a £3,000 a year loss.

“This is yet another example of people who have absolutely no responsibility for the recession and economic crisis being asked to pay for it. Most staff at Culture Coventry are so frightened of losing their jobs, and being unable to pay their mortgage, that they are keeping their heads down and taking it all.

“But I understand Coventry City Council has four elected members on the Board of Culture Coventry, and that they were briefed 3 months ago about these wage cuts – yet it appears that many other councillors, including some from the controlling Labour group, were unaware of these cuts until I raised it last week.

“Councillors on the Board of Culture Coventry should call an emergency meeting and then have these disgraceful wage cuts rescinded. The City Council, who until recently ran all these services, should not put them under arms length arrangements and then wash their hands of all responsibility for staff, many of whom have given years if not decades of service to this city.”

This is the letter sent to museum staff.

Herbert Art Gallery staff forced to take pay cut

Herbert Art Gallery staff forced to take pay cut

Packed room for Socialist election rally

Packed room for Socialist election rally

107 people packed in for the rally

107 people packed in for the rally

107 people packed into the Methodist Central Hall for the Coventry Socialists pre-election rally with Irish Socialist Party MP Ruth Coppinger last week.

Socialist activist and TUSC candidate for North Warwickshire, Eileen Hunter, opened the rally with some reflections on her campaign in the closest marginal seat in the country. John Boadle from Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax then spoke about the planned eviction of Archie Millar, a Coventry resident hit by the bedroom tax, that was prevented by socialists, TUSC candidates and neighbours. Archie was applauded for his strength in fighting back – community campaigners can win!

Irish TD Ruth Coppinger

Irish TD Ruth Coppinger

Ruth then spoke about the situation in Ireland, where there has been a mass movement against austerity, including huge demonstrations and non-payment of water charges. She also spoke about the campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum on same-sex marriage, and against the ban on abortion. Dave Nellist spoke to close the rally, and addressed a number of issues about cuts and austerity. He pointed out that the £70billion+ in bonuses given out by banks since the financial crisis is equivalent to the cuts made to the public sector, and that the super-rich have increased their wealth in that time – “there’s enough wealth in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands!”

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

The rally showed the potential to build the anti austerity socialist alternative in Coventry, something we will continue to do after the election. The election is on Thursday, but Socialists won’t stop campaigning on Friday morning – we’ll keep fighting all year round. Want to help TUSC? Fill in the form below and get involved!

“No council cuts are necessary” – Dave Nellist

“No council cuts are necessary” – Dave Nellist 

Dave speaking at Coventry's May Day rally

Dave speaking at Coventry’s May Day rally

This letter about council cuts from former Labour MP and TUSC national chair Dave Nellist was printed in yesterday’s Coventry Telegraph. Read this article if you want more background on the council’s planned cuts and what the Socialist Party would do differently.

“There’s been little coverage, so far, of the 18 contests for city council seats also taking place on May 7. So allow me raise one issue that I think could define those elections.

On April 22 the Telegraph carried the welcome story of a stay of execution for a City Council jobs service which helps some of the most vulnerable people in the city, at least until the end of the year.

This follows earlier decisions to delay for consultation the imminent closure of libraries, and cuts to disabled children’s transport. None of those decisions will now be taken before the election.

But in fact none of those decisions need to be taken at all.

None of the planned cuts to libraries, children’s and family centres, community centres, adult education centres, lollipop men and women, street cleaners and park maintenance are necessary.

Because when the City Council made its decision in February to set a budget including £15 million worth of cuts to the services mentioned above (and another thousand secure jobs lost to young people in the city) it did so on the money it knew at that time it had as income.

But since then we have learned that Wasps RFC is going to re-pay this summer the balance of the £14.4 million council loan, given to the Ricoh management company which Wasps now own. In other words the City Council will have for this year’s budget £14 million more than 3 months ago it thought it would have.

So here’s a question we could ask to every aspiring councillor in the last few days of the campaign: do you agree that the repayment of that £14 million Ricoh loan should be used to save our libraries, lollipop men and women, disabled children’s transport, jobs service for the most vulnerable and the other services under threat?

Yours sincerely,

Dave Nellist
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition”

Agree with Dave? Want to fight the council cuts? Fill in the form below to get involved!