Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

jane-nellist

Jane Nellist

We are pleased to carry this article from Socialist Party member Jane Nellist regarding the public sector pay cap. The article was originally published in a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper. Jane is joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers and a member of the NEC of her union, as well as being President of Coventry TUC (she writes here in a personal capacity)


Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap!

A stark new report by the government’s own advisors on public sector pay has shown that there was a 6% drop in average wages from 2005 to 2015.

That’s reflected in a £3 an hour loss for teachers, £2 an hour for police officers and £8 an hour for doctors.

More experienced teachers have lost as much as £5,000 a year because of pay restraint, and that doesn’t include the loss from increases in pension and National Insurance contributions.

There is a growing anger among public sector workers about low pay and funding cuts to the services they deliver. The Tories are wobbling on the public sector pay cap, with many cabinet members – fearing mass revolt – coming out for change.

But we cannot rely on their ‘good nature’! They’ll just cut somewhere else to pay for it. We must come out fighting.

At the 1 July ‘Not One Day More’ demo Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants’ union, absolutely nailed it when he posed the question: “Why don’t we have a public sector pay strike to break the pay cap?”

As each day goes by, the Tories are getting weaker. Even though mathematically they have a small majority, propped up by the billion-pound bribe for votes from the DUP, they have no authority.

And it’s not only pay they’re showing weakness on, some have hinted at tuition fees being on the table too. As their poll ratings plummet, they are more divided. We need to push harder to put them out of their misery.

The recent demo was vibrant and young. Labour’s manifesto started to lift aspirations on so many fronts. The mantra of austerity, ‘we are all in it together,’ is dead.

The mood is changing and there is a tangible feeling of victory in the air. That can become a reality, but only if the leadership of our trade unions starts to lead.

Now is the time to organise the millions of public sector workers in a serious coordinated campaign, including strike action, to win back dignity for public sector workers and the services we deliver.

Government to press ahead with Jobcentre closures

Government to press ahead with Jobcentre closures

Image result for coventry jobcentre strike

DWP workers take strike action in Coventry

By a Jobcentre worker and PCS union member

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has disgracefully announced that almost 1 in 10 Jobcentres nationally will be closed. Along with this, two other Jobcentres that were originally meant to stay open are also now due to close.

Of the original 78 Jobcentres earmarked for closure, only 6 will stay open, and 11 of the 80 planned to ‘co-locate’ have been spared – although this is only due to the lack of space in council buildings!

One of the Jobcentres which will close by the end of March next year is Coventry’s Tile Hill Jobcentre – with a government proposal/consultation response stating that it is reasonable for claimants to travel further on public to ‘sign on’, despite the threat of a sanction for missing or being late to an appointment!

The u-turn on the closure of some of the Jobcentres, such as Glasgow Castlemilk, is an example of the potential for victory that can come from a co-ordinated campaign involving trade unions, claimants, and other groups such as DPAC. This mass action is needed across the board to prevent the closure of any more Jobcentres – which will see hundreds of job losses and have a damaging impact on the most vulnerable in society.

Workers at Sheffield Eastern Avenue Jobcentre had a week-long walkout in June, and will be going out on strike between 17-21 July.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“It is utterly disgraceful that DWP is pressing ahead with these closures.

“This Tory government is abandoning unemployed, sick and disabled people, making it harder for them to access the services they need, and putting jobcentre jobs at risk. We will continue to oppose these plans in every way we can.”

The Socialist Party says:

• Oppose all closures! For a mass campaign involving unions, claimants and other groups to end this attack on workers and claimants alike!

Book your place on Coventry transport to July 1st Tories Out protest in London

Book your place on Coventry transport to July 1st Tories Out protest in London

theresa-may-an103106230epa05433683

A mass demonstration has been called in London on Saturday 1st July. The Socialist Party is fully supporting this protest – we need to build maximum pressure on the Tories to evict them from office, as soon as possible. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called on 1 million people to take part. We urge all organisations, including the trade unions, the entire Labour Party and the TUC to actively support and build this movement to get May and the Tories out, and to help a Corbyn-led Labour government in to power. From cuts to emergency services, to coalition with the DUP and now the corporate and capitalist murder of innocents housed in Grenfell Tower in West London, we need to get them out and to fight for socialism.

There is transport being organised from Coventry by Coventry TUC and others, details are being finalised but fill in this form below and we can reserve your place.

 

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton


We have received this article from a Socialist Party member in Nuneaton regarding the forthcoming general election. Readers may remember that Nuneaton was seen as a key marginal in the 2015 election.

The Labour and Conservative manifestos are hot off the printing press and for the first time in a number of years, there is a difference.

Both the Labour and Conservative manifesto offer a vision for Britain, one of society ran for the many and not the few, or one of continued austerity and misery for working class people but tax breaks for the rich.

This was clearly seen on The Andrew Marr Show recently, during a debate between John McDonnell and Damian Green. When discussing Labour’s proposed programme of what is in reality modest nationalisation, Green accused McDonnell of not understanding capitalism, McDonnell quipped back that clearly Green does as he had profited from the rip off that is our privatised water industry. Dead right John!

Whereas the Tories look at essential industries and just see avenues for profit and potential cash cows, Jeremy Corbyn sees essential services that should benefit everybody, be publicly ran, and not used to make a handful of people rich at the expense of the many.

However, the Labour manifesto, despite offering a change from the austerity politics of the Tories, and the austerity-lite policies of the Blair-Brown-Miliband years, falls short of providing a decisive break with capitalism, which we believe is the root of all our problems.

Labour’s plan to renationalise the railways, bringing back into public ownership rail services as current contracts expire, will still leave railways in the hands of private-profiteers for over a decade. The ‘nationalisation’ of the energy industry is a modest plan of setting up a publicly ran company to compete with the others, much like the plans for buss services. Although these are good steps, they fall short of the immediate, democratic nationalisation of key industries and still leave working class people to be exploited and forced to pay rip of prices for train tickets or choose between eating or heating.

Despite these plans being by historical standards very modest, they have been received by the right-wing press with mass hysteria. This is because the capitalist elite fear these modest gains for working people and fear the hopes that a Corbyn led government could give working class people. Whereas they have enjoyed 7 years of growth, with the wealth of the richest 1% of people increasing year on year- with a 14% increase last year alone according to the Sunday Times rich list the rest of us have faced falling living standards due to the cruel austerity politics of both the Tory-Lib Dem coalition and the current government. A Corbyn led government threatens to undermine this.

If given a taste of modest reforms under Corbyn, the ruling elites fear this could cause working class people to want more, which would threaten the vast amounts of wealth they have acquired while the rest of us have suffered. As the saying goes, “appetite grows with eating.”

Although Corbyn’s manifesto is modest, it offers an alternative way of doing things. Although the Socialist Party argues that Corbyn should be bolder, like Melenchon was during the French Presidential election, we back Corbyn and the change in direction he represents and are campaigning for a Corbyn victory.

Although we argue that Corbyn could be bolder with his policies and offer a break with capitalism, the battle lines of this election have been drawn and on election day we will have to choose which side we are on. Are you on the side of Corbyn and for a society that looks after the elderly, gives young people a chance at life with free education, ensures that more people are paid a wage they can live on with a £10hr minimum wage and seeks to change society to be run for the many and not the few? Or are you on the side of Tories and the wealthy elite, for continued austerity for us but tax cuts for wealthiest, for taking the food out of children’s mouths as free school meals are scrapped, or for the continued privatisation of the NHS?

However, whatever the result of the election, the battle for a fairer society and for socialism will still need to be fought. The Labour Party machine is still in the hands of the Blairites who seek to undermine Corbyn and the alternative he represents, especially in the West Midlands. There can be no more talk of ‘unity’ with these professional ‘Red Tories’ who have sought to take Labour back to the Blair-Mandelson days.

If you want to join this fight then stand with us, join the Socialist Party and get involved in the day to day campaigning we do. We support Corbyn and will be making the argument for a Corbyn-led government based on socialist policies.

Press release: Dave Nellist withdraws from general election

Dave Nellist withdraws from general election: press release

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

Yesterday it was announced in the local press that Dave Nellist would not be contesting Coventry North West in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In case you missed it, here is the full press release. We also invite you to our meeting tonight at 7.30pm, Methodist Hall


Dave Nellist, who has stood in the last eight general elections, six of them against Labour, has today announced he won’t be contesting Coventry North West in June in order to support Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister.

Mr Nellist, a former Labour MP who was a colleague of Jeremy Corbyn’s in Parliament in the 1980s, was expelled by Labour in 1992 over his opposition to the Poll Tax.  He sat on Coventry City Council as a socialist from 1998 to 2012.  He is now a member of the Socialist Party.

In an open letter being distributed amongst Labour Party members, Coventry Socialist Party says:

“We want to see the Tories defeated, and Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister. It is for this reason that we have taken the decision not to contest the general election this time.”

“Thousands of people regularly vote for us across the city at each election because they trust us to provide a socialist alternative to the mainstream parties. In this election we support the positive reforms being put forward by Jeremy – including an increase in taxes on the rich, increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour, the repeal of the anti-trade union laws etc.”

“We’ll be throwing ourselves into doing everything we can to get rid of this Tory government and making the arguments in favour of electing Jeremy Corbyn with socialist policies”.

Mr Nellist said today:

“I support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies of higher wages, free university education, affordable house building programme, public ownership of the railways – and 4 more bank holidays! I want to see him elected Prime Minister on June 8th.”

“That won’t stop me continuing to oppose Labour’s local council programme of storing up tens of millions of pounds of reserves whilst libraries, nursery provision and youth clubs are underfunded and threatened with closure.”

“But we have a chance on June 8th to send Jeremy to No. 10 and we can’t do that if Coventry sends Tory MPs to Westminster.”

Mr Nellist is the national chair of TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which stood 135 parliamentary candidates in 2015, making it the sixth largest party across Britain.

The TUSC national steering committee meets on 10th May in London and is expected to endorse no candidates at the June general election to maximise the opposition to the current government.

The Socialist Party is holding a public meeting at Coventry’s Methodist Central Hall on Wednesday, 10th May at 7:30 pm to further explain its stance.  The speaker will be Hannah Sell, Deputy General Secretary of the Socialist Party, who was a former member of the Labour Party National Executive in 1988/89.

The real origins of May Day

The real origins of May Day

18192756_1664705143838688_5748499742893355414_o

Members of the Socialist Movement in Sindh, Pakistan on May Day 2017

May 1st is International Workers’ Day. We are pleased to publish this article by Dave Nellist from the current issue of The Socialist newspaper. Dave explains the revolutionary origins of May Day and it is so important for the working class and socialist movement


The real origins of May Day – by Dave Nellist

May Day has been a public holiday in the UK since 1978. But its real origins lie in the great struggles in America by working people for shorter working hours at the end of the 19th century, and the martyrdom of union leaders executed 130 years ago.

The centre of the movement for an eight-hour working day was Chicago, where some factories imposed an 18-hour day. An eight-hour law had actually been passed by the US congress in 1868. However, over the next 15 years, it was enforced only twice.

But over that same period workers began to take matters into their own hands. For example, in 1872 100,000 workers in New York struck and won an eight-hour day, mostly for building workers.

In the autumn of 1885, a leading union, the Knights of Labor, announced rallies and demonstrations for the following May – on the slogan of “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”

Their radicalism and success in key railroad strikes had led to membership growth. From 28,000 in 1880, the Knights of Labor grew to 100,000 in 1885. In 1886 they mushroomed to nearly 800,000. The capitalists were increasingly frightened at the prospect of widespread strikes.

On 1 May 1886, the first national general strike in American history took place, with 500,000 involved in demonstrations across the country. As a direct consequence, tens of thousands saw their hours of work substantially reduced – in many cases down to an eight-hour day with no loss in pay.

The employers lost no time in executing their revenge. The New York Sun, as direct as its modern British namesake, advocated “a diet of lead for hungry strikers”!

Two days later, on 3 May, 500 police herded 300 scabs through a picket line at the Chicago factory of farm machinery firm International Harvester. When the pickets resisted, the police opened fire and several workers died.

Haymarket

A protest meeting was organised for the following evening in Haymarket Square. Towards its end, in the pouring rain, with only a couple of hundred workers left, the police arrived to break it up.

The meeting had been orderly, but suddenly a bomb was thrown into the ranks of the police. Seven officers were killed and 66 injured.

The police turned their guns on the workers, wounding most of the demonstrators, and killing several. It was never established who threw the bomb – an ‘anarchist,’ or a police ‘agent provocateur.’ At the subsequent trial of the union leaders the prosecution said it was irrelevant, and the judge agreed.

Police raids rounded up hundreds of union activists throughout the country. Eight union leaders were put on trial. Seven of them had not been at the demonstration and the eighth was the speaker on the platform, so none of them could have thrown the bomb.

Legality was never the aim of that trial; revenge was. The Chicago Tribune of the day gave the game away with the headline: “Hang an organiser from every lamp-post.”

The trial began on 21 June. Instead of choosing a jury by picking names from a box – the normal method – it was rigged by a special bailiff, nominated by the prosecutor. He ensured the jury was made up of “such men as the prosecutor wants” – a practice echoed by today’s jury selection in Ireland’s Jobstown protest trial!

On 19 August that jury duly returned a verdict of guilty. Before sentence was formally announced, the defendants were allowed to make statements.

One of the eight, August Spies, a leader of the anarchist International Working People’s Association, made a powerful speech: “Your Honour,” he began, “in addressing this court I speak as the representative of one class to the representative of another…

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement… the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us!

“Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you – and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”

On 11 November 1887, four of the union leaders were executed.

International protests followed. Huge meetings were addressed in England and Wales by Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and William Morris. 200,000 people in Chicago lined the streets for the funerals.

Day of solidarity

From that day on, 1 May has grown to an international day of solidarity among working people.

In 1889, the founding meeting in Paris of what became known as the Second International passed a resolution calling for a “great international demonstration” to take place the following year. The call was a resounding success.

On 1 May 1890, May Day demonstrations took place in the United States and most countries in Europe.

Friedrich Engels joined half a million workers in Hyde Park in London on 3 May, and reported:

“As I write these lines, the working class of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is mobilised for the first time as one army, under one flag, and fighting for one immediate aim: an eight-hour working day.”

As workers have emerged from tyranny and repression in whatever country, they have adopted May Day as theirs. Its true history will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of socialists, as it has done so often in the past.

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

foodbank

Foodbank use is on the up

News has emerged that the use of foodbanks in the United Kingdom has continued to rise. The Trussell Trust has reported that in “between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017 (they) provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.”

This has been blamed on a number of factors, not least the introduction of Universal Credit as well as the continued use of Benefit sanctions as a way of punishing those most in need. It is also true that due to poverty wages and zero hour contracts, that people who are in work can also be forced to foodbanks in order to survive.

How can this be right in the 6th richest country in the world? A country where there is no shortage of money and wealth. Why is it that working class families have to suffer the sheer indignity of going to foodbanks, whilst the rich corporations manage to avoid paying their taxes?

The answer is simple – it is the capitalist system to blame. A system that sees the majority of the world’s population suffer, even in supposedly advanced countries like the UK.

We need to be able to control the vast wealth and resources that exist on our planet, so we can plan the economy in the interests of ordinary people. That means getting rid of capitalism, fighting for public ownership and workers control of the key sectors of the economy, so we can truly put people before profit. In short, we need to fight for socialism. Join us!

If you are interested in finding out more, fill in the form below