UNISON backs Corbyn – comments from a member in the West Midlands

UNISON backs Corbyn – comments from a member in the West Midlands

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Jeremy Corbyn addressing UNISON conference – photo by Paul Mattson

The following article was written by a UNISON member in the West Midlands following the union’s decision to support Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership. The comments were published in The Socialist newspaper several weeks ago. Although the ballot has now closed we are reproducing them here to further the debate within UNISON and the wider trade union movement on how Jeremy’s likely victory can be consolidated and the policies that we believe are needed to change society. There are also strong warning signs from some parts of UNISON who would rather see Jeremy defeated – and see the movement around him as a threat to their positions.


Many Unison members will be pleased that our union has officially backed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. Jeremy is the only candidate, as was the case with the leadership election in 2015, who is fully supportive of the trade union movement and who is in line with the union’s anti-austerity policies.

The immense support and enthusiasm that he receives from activists was witnessed at our annual conference in Brighton in June. When Jeremy spoke he got a huge standing ovation and was mobbed by supporters when he finished speaking – the fact that we have a Labour leader who is unashamedly pro-trade union is a big step forward!

However make no bones about it, there are plenty in our union who would have liked to have ‘done a GMB’ and supported Owen Smith. General secretary Dave Prentis made a statement on 12 August which talks of Labour becoming the ‘nasty party’ with many veiled attacks on the Corbyn campaign.

Prentis fears a Corbyn-type movement in UNISON that could transform our union from top to bottom. Unison members would do well to remember that Prentis and his bureaucracy spent hundreds of thousands of pounds witch-hunting Socialist Party members in UNISON in an unsuccessful attempt to ‘get the Trots’ – sound familiar to the Labour Party today?

The key issues for UNISON members are first of all ensuring a Corbyn victory but then making sure we properly finish the job – no more compromise with right-wing Labour councillors cutting our jobs or Labour MPs who are happy to take our union donations but don’t support union policies.

Importantly we need to discuss how exactly we can get the fairer society that Corbyn supports and many UNISON members want to see – Socialist Party supporters in UNISON believe that means breaking with the failed system of capitalism and introducing widespread public ownership of the banks and major industry.

Then we can truly put people before profit!

Unison member in the West Midlands

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Barclays redundancies in Coventry show the brutal face of capitalism

Barclays redundancies in Coventry show the brutal face of capitalism

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Barclays Bank

Barely two years after Barclays Bank closed its call centre at Walsgrave with the loss of hundreds of jobs, around 200 permanent staff and many more agency staff working at the Westwood Business Park centre were told this week that their jobs have moved to contact centres in Liverpool, Sunderland and India. As of the 31st December, staff won’t have jobs – to use Barclays’ terminology, they’ll “fall away”.

Unite, the union representing Barclays staff, says staff are “entitled to feel badly let down”. That is correct – they have been misled and treated as disposable. And any permanent staff who’ve been with Barclays for less than two years are being let go without redundancy pay, just 3 months “gardening leave”. Barclays didn’t even want to give staff that – Unite had to fight for it. Temporary staff are being let go at the end of the year with nothing.

The pack given out by senior management to staff, explains very matter-of-factly how much consideration has gone into his plans – as if staff care about that now they’ve sacked them.

This reflects the brutal reality of capitalism – workers can be discarded with the bare minimum of a payout.  Barclays employed staff who rigged the Libor rates and caused the financial crash – they’ve just laid off over 200 workers who do the difficult job of speaking to customers affected by fraud.

Barclays should be nationalised and brought in to public ownership – the banks and financial instituions that wreaked havoc on the working class of the UK and across the world and continue to act with callous disregard for their workers can’t be left in the hands of profit hungry capitalists. We need an economy that puts working class people first, that means breaking with capitalism.

Solidarity to all staff who are affected.

 

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

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Campaigners just before handing the petition in to Coventry City Council

Campaigners from Save Coventry Libraries have today handed in a petition signed by nearly 2000 people against the plans by Coventry City Council to reduce and close library services around the city and replace fully trained paid staff with volunteers.

Campaign organiser Sarah Smith of Save Coventry Libraries handed over the 1,886 strong petition, with another 456 having signed online. This was just the first batch of signatures, with further protests and petitions planned against not only the library cuts, but also other parts of the Connecting Communities programme that will see massive attacks on children’s and youth services throughout the city.

We repeat what we have stated many times before – the Council do have a choice. They should not be passing on the Tory cuts to the people of Coventry. Labour Councillors should be organising a fightback against central government, linking up with other Labour Councils to say ‘enough is enough’, and demanding more resources for the services we need.

Coventry Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) look forward to helping to build the anti cuts campaigns in Coventry.