Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

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Coventry Against The Cuts march through the City Centre

Between 2-300 people marched through Coventry on Saturday 21st in a protest against enormous cuts to local services. The march, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry Against the Cuts, united activists from a variety of trade unions and community campaigns. Flags and banners from Unison, Unite, FBU, NUT and other unions, as well as placards from “Save Our Libraries” campaigners showed the wide range of people who marched.

Many speakers concentrated on Coventry’s Labour council’s role in implementing Tory cuts. Socialist Party member Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President, called for councillors to “stand up and fight”.

A Unison member who works in a library gave an impassioned speech outlining the current situation which received a loud response from the crowd.

An official from the FBU brought support from his union which was greatly appreciated – firefighters are on strike on Wednesday from 7am for 24 hours in their battle with the government.

Coventry’s Labour Council has already been forced to give some concessions to protesters such as delaying the planned cuts to disabled children’s transport and library closures for a year. This has been the result of campaigning by community groups and unions (especially Unison) across the city including thousands signing petitions and organised protests. Members of the Socialist Party and TUSC have played a role in this for example in Tile Hill and Stoke. The key thing is that protest clearly works!

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Picture from Coventry Telegraph

The budget proposals still include plans to close or reduce many vital services, including youth centres, community centres and even public toilets.

As Dave Nellist pointed out, the council has £81million+ in reserves that they could use to fund services while building a campaign against cuts alongside the people of Coventry, to demand central Government gives our city the money we need for decent services. If our Labour councillors won’t do that, we should replace them with people who will.

One of the most lively groups on the march was a section of young Socialists, including students from Coventry and Warwick University and local sixth forms, many of whom wore bright “£10 Now” shirts to support the campaign for a £10 an hour minimum wage.

There are a number of anti-cuts events this week in Coventry, please get along and show your support for the fight against austerity!

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Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Coventry Council announced today that all libraries in Coventry will remain open for another year, after protests and petitions across the city against the planned cuts.

Despite only being a “stay of execution” for a year, with Labour councillor David Kershaw admitting that the council will be looking at libraries “sharing” buildings with other groups in the future, this shows that protests and campaigning can work.

“The council are running scared and have responded by delaying the closures for a year, in an attempt to stop the protests – the best way to respond is to keep campaigning against all the cuts.” said Sarah Smith, a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist who has been campaigning to save Tile Hill Library.

Councillor Kershaw’s comment that the libraries may be closing in two years also reveals what we can expect to see under a future Labour government – continued cuts to council grants, leading to our public services being closed. We can’t just “wait for Labour” – we have to fight the cuts!

This decision blows apart the council’s continued claim that “there is no alternative” to cuts, as they have found the money to keep the libraries open for another year. Rather than continuing to slash our services and cut council workers jobs, they should use the £80million+ that they have in reserves to fund services, while building a campaign alongside the people of Coventry to demand central Government gives us the money back. If the councillors aren’t prepared to do that, we should replace them with people who will.

Let’s keep the pressure up and make the demonstration on Saturday massive to drive forward the anti-cuts movement in Coventry!

Coventry Against The Cuts march, Saturday 21st February, 12 midday outside the Transport Museum

Coventry anti-cuts diary!

Coventry anti-cuts diary!

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

In the next few weeks there are a number of anti-cuts protests and meetings in and around Coventry. Please make every effort to attend these events – we need to build a mass movement against austerity and capitalism!

Saturday 21st February – Coventry Against the Cuts march in the City Centre, assembling at 12 noon outside the Transport Museum. There will be a number of speakers from different trade unions and campaigns in the city including the campaign to save the libraries!

Monday 23rd February – Save Our Libraries “read-in” outside the Council House at 4.45pm! Please bring yourselves, your families and library books for a read in on the council house steps!

Tuesday 24th February – Lobby of Coventry Council’s budget meeting, outside the Council House, 1-2pm. Coventry’s Labour councillors are betraying the people of this city by passing on cuts and doing the Tories dirty work – come along and tell them to fight back!

Wednesday 25th February – 24 hour FBU strike, look out for details of pickets and support our firefighters!

Wednesday 25th February – Dave Nellist will be speaking at the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition election campaign in Coventry, 7.30pm at the Methodist Central Hall. We need an alternative to austerity – the Socialist Party is standing as part of TUSC across Coventry! TUSC is the only party that pledges to vote against cuts – come along to our election launch and find out more.

Tuesday 3rd March – Save Our Libraries meeting, 7pm at the Methodist Central Hall. The National Union of Teachers has organised this meeting with authors Alan Gibbons and Cathy Cassidy, as well as local library campaigners and a national NUT speaker. Don’t let Coventry Council close our libraries!

Saturday 14th March – Midlands Conference of the National Shop Stewards Network, 12-4pm, Unite Offices, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AY. This conference is for trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners throughout both East and West Midlands to come together and work out solutions to problems we face in our unions and our workplaces. There will be speakers from different trade unions as well as workshops to discuss the fight against austerity.

40 people join protest against library closures

40 people join protest against library closures

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Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Around 40 people protested against library closures outside Earlsdon Library on Thursday in a vibrant demonstration of opposition to the council’s planned cuts.

Many children from Earlsdon Primary School came to the protest with their parents, which shows the depth of feeling in the community – this is echoed across Coventry, particularly in Tile Hill where over 900 people have signed the petition against the closure of the library,

Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Dan Crowter spoke at the protest to advertise the anti-cuts march on February 21st, and finished by saying that if the councillors aren’t prepared to fight the cuts we should replace them with people who will.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Jason Toynbee on the protest

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Jason Toynbee on the protest

Protesters will be outside Stoke Library at 10am and Earlsdon and Tile Hill Libraries at 12midday on Saturday 14th February, and will be holding a “read-in” outside the Council House at 4.45pm on February 23rd. There is also a major anti-cuts march in Coventry on February 21st, gathering outside the Transport Museum at 12 midday.

Coventry Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Election Launch – 7.30pm, February 25th, Methodist Central Hall

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

The following letter from Jane Nellist was carried in a recent issue of the Coventry Telegraph. Jane is a leading member of the National Union of Teachers, secretary of Coventry TUC and member of the Socialist Party. Jane outlines in this letter why library closures should be opposed, and why we must all oppose the idea that they are run on a charity shop basis as is proposed by the Council.

‘As a representative of the National Union of Teachers in Coventry, representing over 1,800 teachers, we are extremely concerned with the city council’s intention to reduce dramatically the number of public libraries in Coventry.

We believe that libraries are uniquely placed to help foster engagement in reading. They offer free access to learning and a ‘safe’ space for children and young people to study and access resources.

They can help students to develop their confidence and motivation, seeing themselves as readers outside school and, therefore, read more widely and independently. They will offer a far wider range of reading materials than the school can offer, inspiring students to extend their reading tastes.

Librarians are key to this service. The fact that councillors are even suggesting that we can run libraries on a ‘charity shop’ model with volunteers is an insult to our library service.

Councillor Kershaw rightfully points to them being a ‘golden thread running throughout our lives’ (Telegraph, Jan 16). These cuts, supported by both political parties, will turn that 24 carat gold to fool’s gold if they succeed with this plan.

Libraries are a treasure of information and imagination and we must all join together to fight to keep all our libraries as well as oppose all cuts. Let’s unite to defend the services that matter to us and not be divided by the canker of austerity.

Jane Nellist,

​Joint secretary and national executive member,

Coventry NUT’

Agree with Jane?

Then join the demonstration against cuts including the closure of the libraries

Saturday 21st February, assemble 12pm, outside Coventry Transport Museum. Facebook event page here

Looking Back At 2014’s Heroes And Villains!

Looking Back at 2014’s Heroes and Villains!

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2014 was a year that showed the brutal nature of capitalism on many occasions – and also the strength and power ordinary people have when we fight back! So here’s our list of 2014’s heroes and villains.

 “Sir” Nigel Thrift

For Warwick University’s Vice-Chancellor Nigel Thrift, he began 2014 as he ended it – by giving himself a pay rise! As we reported in January, the inappropriately named Thrift increased his pay from £316,000 to £332,000 at the start of the year – he’s just put it up again to £348,000! This means that since “Shifty Thrifty” became VC in 2006, his pay has gone up by 26% – while other workers have seen their pay cut by 6-7% in real terms.

Nigel wondering how much to pay himself next year

Nigel wondering how much to pay himself next year

So what has Nige done to justify this salary? Well, at the start of December he defended the shocking violence used by police against peaceful student protesters – they were CS sprayed, slammed to the floor and threatened with a taser. The University management then sought an injunction against students who were peacefully occupying part of the Rootes building – and successfully managed to ban occupations on campus indefinitely. Despite this, not only has Thrift given himself yet another pay rise – he’s also been given a knighthood!

So Thrift is definitely on our villains list – but it’s not all bad at Warwick!

Warwick Uni Protesters

There were a number of demonstrations at Warwick last year, organised by various different groups. In June, after the media revealed that a member of the openly fascist group National Action was studying at Warwick, over 200 students joined an anti-fascist demo to oppose them and other far-right groups.

Over 1000 students gather at Warwick for #copsoffcampus protest

Over 1000 students gather at Warwick for #copsoffcampus protest

In December after a peaceful sit-in demonstration was viciously attacked by police, Warwick students immediately organised a #CopsOffCampus demo in response, which was attended by around 1000 people! Hundreds of students then occupied the top floor of the Rootes building in protest, and issued a list of demands to the university – rather than responding to the demands, management organised “negotiations” which were a sham, and sought an injunction against the occupiers. Despite this, students are planning to keep fighting in the new year – so they’re very much heroes of 2014!

Ann Lucas

After the actions of Coventry Council in 2014 no list of villains would be complete without including the council’s Labour leader Ann Lucas, who has happily signed off on cuts to thousands of jobs, loads of crucial services and even cut funding to local charities like Coventry Haven.  The council’s “City Centre First” plan, if carried out, will devastate the city’s services.

Protestors outside the Council House

Anti-cuts protestors outside the Council House

The Council also sold the Ricoh Arena to Wasps for a pittance, threatening the existence of CCFC and Cov Rugby Club.

One particularly vicious cut planned by the council was to cut transport to school for disabled children – however they went back on this after a protest outside the council house!

Anti-Cuts Protesters

Throughout the year there have been repeated protests against cuts being carried out by Coventry Council. These have been organised by different organisations including Coventry Against the Cuts, Disabled People Against Cuts and a number of different trade unions – and supported by the Socialist Party and TUSC. As mentioned above, one of these protests – against cuts to disabled children’s transport – forced the council to reverse their plans.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students campaigning against cuts

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students campaigning against cuts

The position of Coventry TUC, Coventry Unison, TUSC and the Socialist Party is that the council shouldn’t simply carry out the Tory cuts, but should use some of their £81million reserves to fund services for a year and buy them some time to build a campaign to demand the rest of the money from central Government.

Striking Workers

Workers have been under attack from this Government since they took power, and continued to fight back in 2014. Teachers in the NUT went on strike in April against attacks on the education system, and over 800 joined a rally in Birmingham on the day. The Fire Brigades Union has taken strike action repeatedly throughout the year against the Governments plans to cut their pensions and make them work until they’re 60. PCS members in HMRC also took action in June, and again on July 10th. 6 unions (Unison, Unite, GMB, FBU, NUT and PCS) took action on “J10” and 500 workers rallied in Broadgate against the cuts!

Industrial action is a key weapon available to the working class to fight the bosses – in 2015 we need to develop co-ordinated national industrial action between the unions and develop and support local community campaigns to defend services. At the same time, we should build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to develop working class political representation that can challenge the Westminster mainstream parties who are united behind the same austerity agenda.

#CovBudget2015 – Trade Union Member Comments On Council ‘Consultation’ Over Cuts Budget

#CovBudget2015 – Trade Union Member Comments On Council ‘Consultation’ Over Cuts Budget

The opening to Coventry Council's budget video

The opening to Coventry Council’s budget video

We have received these comments from a trade union member regarding the online consultation that has been launched by Coventry City Council regarding the proposed budget which, if passed, will see the biggest cuts in public services in living memory. The Council are proposing that virtually every library, children and community centre and public toilet – to name just a few services – are closed, resulting in the loss of many jobs.


Having been through a number of consultations regarding workplace issues such as restructures, I wasn’t exactly expecting much from the consultation launched by the Labour council regarding its cuts proposals, but I think it is important to tell them our views, whilst at the same time working to mobilise and build opposition amongst people in Coventry and service users.

However on visiting the Council website and starting to fill in the online survey, I soon realised that this wasn’t a consultation at all, but a way of trying to get the people of Coventry to run their own services (for free)! There are a mere 5 sections, and one of these is asking for your postcode. Questions 2-4 are an attempt to create a version of Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ but under the so called ‘progressive’ guise of the Labour council. Where is the question asking you if you agree with these proposals or not? It is not even on there!

Coventry Unison have put forward that the Council should use some of its £81 million in reserves to plug the gap caused by the reduction in funding from central government. This would allow the Councillors time to build a fight involving the whole city – the Council, trade unions, community groups, service users etc to demand more money from central government. But despite the unions making this very reasonable and common sense suggestion to the Labour group, it does not appear anywhere in their thinking!

Whilst Councillor Gannon, Cabinet member for Finance, has taken to Twitter to denounce ‘the extreme left’ for putting forward ideas for fighting the cuts, it seems he and his Labour colleagues have surrendered to the Tories before even trying to fight for a better deal for this city. Perhaps trade union members need a proper and genuine consultation on where our financial and political support should go in the elections in May?

Protest against cuts to local services

Protest against cuts to local services

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Despite the pouring rain, around 40 people joined the lobby of Coventry Council on Tuesday 13th to challenge councillors over their planned budget cuts. The cuts will mean every service outside the City Centre is under threat of closure – every library, community centre and even public toilets!

Members of unions such as Unite, Unison, NUT and the FBU were represented, as well as Coventry Trades Council. Socialist Party members and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates were also at the lobby.

Dan Crowter, who stood for TUSC in Bablake ward in the 2014 local elections, said “The councillors tell us they’re making these cuts with a heavy heart. Well I’ve got a heavy heart too – but after these cuts and council tax rises, I’ll have a lighter wallet as well.”

Jane Nellist, Branch Secretary of Coventry NUT (personal capacity), attacked the council’s decision to cut libraries, pointing out their importance to the community and also for children as they provide them books and a safe space to read. She ended by saying that “we didn’t create this crisis, we’re not going to pay for it!”

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist, national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, called on the council to use the £81 million they have in reserves and build a campaign against the cuts. He also said the council should be flooded with petitions challenging every service closure so the council know people are opposed to their cuts.

There will be a Coventry Against the Cuts march through the City Centre on February 21st, to put more pressure on the council before the budget vote on the 24th. If, as expected, Coventry’s councillors choose to vote for the planned cuts and decimate our services, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates will stand in every ward across the city to provide an anti-cuts alternative in May.

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Coventry Council announced today that disabled children’s transport to school will continue to be funded for at least another year, after protests over the planned cuts.

Over 50 people protested last month outside the Council House, including Socialist Students and TUSC activists as well as members of Warwick for Free Education. The protest was organised by community campaigner and DPAC member Eleanor Lisney.

This victory shows that protest and pressure works, and councils can be forced to back down over planned cuts – however, as the funding has only been guaranteed for another year it shows the importance of keeping that pressure up, both in terms of protest and electoral challenges to councillors who continue to vote for cuts.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

It is urgent that the Council use the £80million+ reserves to stop any cuts to buy time to build a mass fightback in the city, linking up with other councils, to demand proper funding from central Government.

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