“22 tower blocks in Coventry don’t have sprinklers” – a Coventry tower block resident speaks out after the Grenfell fire

“22 tower blocks in Coventry don’t have sprinklers” – a Coventry tower block resident speaks out after the Grenfell fire

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We have recieved the below article from a resident of a tower block in Coventry following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London. Please read and share this important article.

The disaster at Grenfell Tower in London, where a fire ripped through the 24-storey tower block early last Wednesday morning leaving a death toll which now stands at 79 and is expected to rise, is a damning indictment of the greed and profit-driven capitalist system.

It has long been clear that working class lives have never been held in anything but contempt by the capitalists and their representatives, and now – not for the first time – they have blood on their hands. The exact cause of the fire is not yet known. But the use of flammable cladding to plaster the outside of the building is believed to have been a major factor in turning the entire tower block into a deadly inferno. This is the same cladding that is banned for use on buildings above 40 feet in the USA, and is classed as a ‘flammable’ material in Germany, despite conforming to UK regulations.

What is even worse is the fact that the fire-resistant version of the cladding would have cost developers only £5,000 extra to use – that is, £2 more per square metre than the flammable cladding they did use.

Residents of the tower wrote in November 2016 that “only a catastrophic event …  an incident that results in serious loss of life … a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property” would lead to changes being implemented by their landlord. They were ignored. They have now been proven right, in tragic circumstances.

The disaster has sparked huge anger amongst many working class people, leading to major demonstrations and protests which saw Kensington Town Hall stormed by large numbers of people, and Theresa May having to be bundled safely into a car away from angry demonstrators amid cries of “Murderer! Murderer!”

This has left the government in complete disarray – with May refusing to meet residents because of “security concerns”, and even having to admit that “support on the ground for families who needed help or basic informatiom in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.” This stands in stark contrast to the way Jeremy Corbyn actually met with the residents, and who is demanding that Theresa May promise a full, independent and meaningful public enquiry into the disaster. This contrast is not lost on residents and the friends and relatives of those affected – as shown by the scenes of the angry questioning of Tory MP Andrea Leadsom when she visited people as to why the Prime Minister and other senior Tories had not visited them, whilst Jeremy Corbyn did.

The Grenfell tragedy has been one long in the making. Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s newly-appointed Chief of Staff, who was the Housing Minister before the election, actually delayed a review into fire safety in high-rise apartments. It is also worth remembering that back in 2012, The Independent reported then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s intention to “kill off safety culture”, declaring that “we need to realise, collectively, that we cannot eliminate risk and that some accidents are inevitable”. This abhorrent contempt and lack of value for working class lives shows itself starkly with the promise from Theresa May of a £5million emergency fund for victims – the rough value of a single terraced house in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in the country!

It has also been reported that the flammable cladding was used to help improve the view for those living in the nearby luxury houses.  We have said that they have blood on their hands – this was an act of corporate murder, and the shocking lack of health and safety standards has worried many people across the country, concerned at just how safe their own homes are.

Here in Coventry, WM Housing (which owns Whitefriars) has revealed that just two of their 24 tower blocks have a sprinkler system installed! Living in a Whitefriars-run tower block myself I noticed they quickly put up some fire safety notices inside the ground floor entrance a couple of days after the Grenfell fire. They also put a leaflet through every letterbox which confirmed our tower block did have a sprinkler installed – but in the immediate vicinity there are a total of 3 tower blocks which they also maintain. As WM Housing have said only 2 tower blocks across Coventry have a sprinkler, it begs the question as to why only one or two tower blocks out of three in the same area may have one!

The failure to have properly sorted out even these simple and surely basic standards up until now does not fill me with confidence. When I moved into the flat there weren’t even any smoke alarms installed!

Coventry Council has confirmed that it will be carrying out safety inspections in tower blocks over 6 storeys tall. However, they have exempted Whitefriars-run blocks from the inspections because they “have already provided assurances to the council that their buildings are up to the relevant fire safety standards”. Assurances are not good enough – all blocks should be inspected, along with other public buildings, to ensure they meet safety standards. Landlords in the private rented sector should also be forced to ensure their properties are safe and fit for human habitation.

We cannot afford a system which treats our lives with such contempt, and gives them so little value in comparison to those whose interests it was created solely to represent. We must have a break with this system – the capitalist system, driven purely by profit and greed, a system which looks after the interests of big business and the 1%. We must fight for socialism – to change society and run it in the interests of working class people, under whose democratic control the economy and industry would be planned. Anything less will eventually leave us with a repeat of the Grenfell tragedy.

Coventry Socialist Party calls for:

Justice for Grenfell – get the property developers and Kensington Council in the dock.

Reverse fire service cuts – fund our emergency services properly. End the pay freeze.

Inspections and a full review of safety procedures across housing, council buildings, schools, colleges and universities in Coventry. All tower blocks and schools should have sprinkler systems installed.

Campaign for all housing, private and social, to meet safety standards. No cutting corners for profit.

Organise for action, rent strikes and walkouts if our safety can’t be guaranteed – no safety means no work, no rent and no school!

Do you agree? Get in touch!

Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

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After the general election result, which shocked the Tories and the capitalist class, Theresa May is attempting to cling onto power by forming an unholy alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies powered Labour to a 40% share of the vote – the Tories are rightly terrified that if they don’t keep power he could win an election. We need to step up the fight against them!

We are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 13th June to discuss the election and how we build the struggle against them. The meeting is at the Methodist Central Hall at 7.30. Please share and come along!

Why young people should support Jeremy Corbyn

Why young people  should support Jeremy Corbyn

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Young people in Coventry protesting against Tory cuts to their future

We have received this article from Dan, a young worker and trade union member in Coventry


Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies have inspired people across the country and around the world. Young people especially have been supportive of Jeremy’s ideas, attending rallies and campaigning for him in the general election. One poll suggests that 68% of people aged 18-24 will vote Labour, 52% ahead of the Tories!

So why should young people support Jeremy? Politicians have lied to us before, so many of us don’t trust a word any of them say. Nick Clegg said he’d scrap tuition fees – that pledge lasted about a week into his coalition with David Cameron and the Tories. But in this election we’re not being offered the Tories, Diet Tories and Tory Zero – there’s a clear choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, and the policies they’re running on.

Jeremy wants to scrap tuition fees, abolish graduate debt and bring in a National Education Service – for free education for everyone, “from the cradle to the grave”. Compare that to what we have now – if you go to uni you could leave with £50 grand of debt round your neck! He also wants to scrap exploitative zero-hour contracts and increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Corbyn’s policies have a lot to offer young people, and give a glimpse of what can be achieved by using some of the wealth in this country – the 6th richest country on earth. But we believe we need to go further to truly change our society, and fight for a socialist system. Rather than the chaos of the markets dictating what resources are available, that means taking the wealth off the 1%, taking the banks and big businesses into public ownership and running them democratically in the interests “of the many, not the few”.

Do you agree with Jeremy? Want to join the fight for socialism? Fill in the form below!

Tile Hill Jobcentre facing closure

Tile Hill Jobcentre facing closure

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Coventry PCS members in the DWP taking strike action

This article was sent to us by a local member of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents DWP staff.

The DWP has revealed that Coventry’s Tile Hill Jobcentre will be one of the many offices facing closure over the next few years.

This will place more pressure on claimants to travel further and at greater expense to “sign on” – and risk facing sanctions for being late or failing to turn up.

There is also the potential for hundreds of job losses across the country, with Tile Hill being just one of the sites earmarked for closure. Glasgow is facing the closure of 8 out of its 16 Jobcentres. The PCS union, representing civil servants and including staff who work in Jobcentres, has said it opposes all of the planned closures.. PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said the union “will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs”.

The potential for hundreds of job losses comes at a time when there are already drastic cuts being planned for the Civil Service Compensation Scheme – which for many will mean being made redundant on the cheap. The office closures must also been seen in the light of this governments continued attacks on the working class – the brutal cuts in welfare and to local services.

Sadly “The Job Shop” has also been threatened with closure. This is a “double whammy” for people who want to get back into work, as both the DWP and Coventry Council are closing services designed to help them find employment!

A strong campaign including claimants, Jobcentre workers and trade unions is needed to fight sanctions and cuts. The PCS has a proud record of campaigning against welfare cuts.

If we are to ultimately defeat cuts, we need to take on the system which demands them. Capitalism in crisis tries to boost its profits by slashing jobs and wages, and cutting big business tax bills. The alternative is to fight for a socialist society, run for the millions not the millionaires.

Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

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Poster produced by the Socialist Party in Ireland

A report published by Oxfam today has once again laid bare the growing gap between the richest and poorest people in the world. Just eight billionaires own the same amount as the poorest half of the world’s population – that’s 3.6 billion people.

Even the capitalists are starting to realise that growing inequality represents a threat to their system. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for 2017 placed inequality at the top of the list of threats facing society. But despite this realisation, under capitalism the wealth of the super-rich and the gap between “them and us” will inevitably continue to grow. Even during the financial crisis Britain’s billionaires doubled their wealth between 2009 and 2015!

Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring says that this shocking inequality shows that “our economics is broken”, and argued for “a more human economy”. But the system isn’t broken – capitalism is designed to make the rich richer, and it’s doing that perfectly. This report lays out the problem clearly – but its proposed reforms don’t address the fundamental issue of who controls the wealth in society. Workers create the wealth in society, but the super-rich keep it – to change this system we need to take the wealth off the 1%, and fight for a socialist system that will mean we can plan the world’s resources for the majority of people!

Are you angry at inequality? Do you want to join us in fighting the system that creates it? Fill in the form below!

 

It’s Fat Cat Wednesday!

It’s Fat Cat Wednesday!

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A Fat Cat Capitalist

Today has been named “Fat Cat Wednesday” by the High Pay Centre, who say that by midday today chief executives will already have been paid more than an “average” UK worker.

This highlights the gross inequality of wages in the UK. In fact for many workers the contrast between their pay and their bosses is even starker – the High Pay Centre based this calculation on an average wage of £28,200, a wage that people on zero-hour contracts and in low paid jobs can only dream of.

It is a disgrace that in less than two days super-rich bosses have made more than millions of UK workers – and this kind of inequality will continue and get worse under capitalism. The Socialist Party fights for decent jobs and a £10 an hour minimum wage – and we also fight to replace this obscene capitalist system with a socialist society, for the millions not the millionaires.

Do you want to fight the fat cats? Fill in the form below!

Tories plan further fee hikes for uni students

Tories plan further fee hikes for uni students

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Aidan (second from right) campaigning with TUC Young Workers

The below article by Coventry Socialist Students member Aidan O’Toole was carried in this weeks issue of The Socialist newspaper. The Tories have planned further attacks on students – students need to organise to fight back.

The Tories want universities that meet their backbreaking ‘teaching excellence framework’ targets to be allowed to increase the cost of their courses with inflation. Universities including Manchester have already announced their fees will rise to £9,250 in 2017, before parliament has even considered the measure.

The future is looking bleak for young people. Houses are unaffordable, jobs are low-paid and insecure, and education is becoming more and more elitist.

Universities received £9 billion in tuition fees last year, the highest amount ever. The government has cut central funding to £3 billion.

Rising tuition fees, along with the end of student grants, are increasingly pushing working class people out of higher education. Working class and some middle class students have to decide if a life of debt is worth a degree, which isn’t a guarantee of employment. And that’s only if they can afford to rent accommodation and feed themselves during the course.

It is no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn’s call last year to scrap tuition fees resonates with so many young people. Anger is clear among students who feel like they are putting themselves in a lot of debt for not much gain. The 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey found that two thirds of students felt their degree didn’t give value for money.

The Socialist Party says education is a right and should be free for all. It should not just be a privilege for the super-rich who can afford extortionate fees and high living costs, relying of the bank of mum and dad. We fight for an end to fees, cuts and closures in higher education, for a living grant for all students, and for the return of EMA student payments in further education.