Coventry kids going hungry over summer holidays

Coventry kids going hungry over summer holidays

foodbank

The following article was sent to us by Nicky Downes, a local teacher and equalities secretary for Coventry NUT.

There will be many children in Coventry counting down the days until they return to school in September. We all assume that children love the freedom of the holidays but if you’re hungry then there is little pleasure in each day.

Teachers in Coventry often have a packet of biscuits in their cupboard and many will have provided a bowl of cereal for a child that has gone without breakfast. At least for all children in Key Stage 1 there is a free hot meal to look forward to at lunchtime during the term. In fact as reported by the Cov Telegraph this week 8368 students in the city are entitled to free school meals. That’s one in every ten children.

Come the holidays free school meals are not available. For some families finding the cost of providing meals for their children for the six week holiday can be a struggle. The Tressell Trust which runs many of Coventry’s foodbanks reported a 17% rise in use over last year’s summer holidays. It is likely to be as high or if not higher this year.

We live in the sixth richest country and still some of our city’s children go hungry over the summer. Despite knowing that for many a free meal in the middle of the day is essential, the Tory government wanted to end free school meals for Key Stage 1 and were quite rightly forced to backtrack. No families should be reliant on foodbanks to fill the gap. It’s a national disgrace.

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Protest against school funding cuts in Coventry

Protest against school funding cuts in Coventry

Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT

Protesters gathered in Coventry today for the “Big School Assembly” demonstration organised by trade unions to protest against education cuts.

Jane Nellist from the National Union of Teachers spoke, as well as speakers from the University and Colleges Union, UNISON and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Parents also spoke and expressed concerns about the impact of funding cuts on their children.

The School Cuts website highlights the effect of education cuts across the country at primary and secondary level. It lists the cuts being made to almost all schools – the picture below shows just how badly these cuts will impact on Coventry.

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Education cuts and academisation represent a huge threat to children’s futures, and it’s important for school staff, parents and pupils to keep building the campaign against them.

Blue Coat School Strike – report & pictures from the picket line

Blue Coat School Strike – report & pictures from the picket line

By Kris O’Sullivan

On the Thursday 3rd September members of the NUT went on strike at Blue Coat academy in Coventry in direct response to the attack on the working conditions of teaching / school staff imposed by management.

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This has been an ongoing process for an significant amount of time as union reps have been trying to negotiate with management for nearly a year now to restore original contracts.

However this strike is due to changes in performance measuring standards alongside additional significant changes being made with no consultation, with teachers only finding out via the school’s website!

This is all being done in the background of a sweep of redundancies both mandatory and voluntary, TA employment decimated, admin/cleaning staff laid off etc.

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There was a very good turnout from NUT members and great show of support from local parents, pupils, members of other trade unions and the local community, as many can empathize with the detrimental treatment of workers of Blue coat and ultimately the effect on the pupils themselves.

Further strike action is planned next week on Thursday September 10th.

Socialist Party members visited the Picket line and sent messages of support to the striking teachers.

Socialist Party members visited the Picket line and sent messages of support to the striking teachers.

Socialist candidates pledge to support Coventry libraries

Socialist candidates pledge to support Coventry libraries

TUSC candidates pledge to save Coventry libraries

TUSC candidates pledge to vote against cuts to Coventry libraries

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates attended an event organised by the Save Coventry Libraries campaign and pledged to vote against any reduction in library provision. Every local and general election candidate in the city was invited – but not a single candidate from Labour, the Lib Dems, the Tories or UKIP even turned up.

The candidates who signed the pledge included Sarah Smith, TUSC candidate for Woodlands, who organised a petition of almost 1500 people against the closure of Tile Hill Library. Local teacher Nicky Downes, one of the organisers of the campaign and the TUSC candidate for Coventry North East, said “It was great to have so much support from other TUSC candidates and from the public. It’s a shame our Labour candidates won’t do the same and stick up for our services.”

A letter has also been sent to Save Coventry Libraries supporting the pledge on behalf of all TUSC candidates. It reads, in part, “All TUSC candidates are happy to pledge to vote against library closures or any reduction in library services, and to vote against all cuts to public services. The people of Coventry rely on libraries and other services, and unlike our current Labour councillors we wouldn’t vote for any cuts.”

Do you want to support TUSC candidates? Fill in the form below and get involved!

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

77 people attended the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in Coventry on February 25th. The Socialist Party, which organised the meeting, is standing as part of TUSC alongside the RMT trade union and many leading trade unionists.

Judy Griffiths, Coventry CWU branch secretary and prospective TUSC candidate, chaired the meeting, at which speakers from the FBU, PCS, Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and NUS spoke (all speaking in a personal capacity), reflecting the base of TUSC and the Socialist Party in the unions across the city.

Jordan Jefferies, a sixth-form student in Coventry and a Socialist Party member, spoke about the anger felt by many young people against austerity, and said that TUSC has been amazing in attempting to engage the people who are disillusioned and disinterested in politics. People are disillusioned and angry with establishment politics and rightly so. The Socialist Party and TUSC are out to build the opposition to “business as usual”.

Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President and prospective TUSC candidate, spoke about the effects she sees of austerity on children in her job as a teacher.

Nick Harrison, Coventry Fire Brigades Union borough rep had been on strike with his union the same day – supported on the picket lines by Socialist Party and TUSC activists – and spoke about their dispute, and the need for a viable political alternative to Labour.

Lee Cooper, RMT Coventry No.1 branch secretary, spoke about the City Link scandal, the effect it had on workers and the need for a working class political voice.

Former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist spoke about the TUSC project more widely, and why it is significant in the development of a new party for ordinary people.

This meeting showed some of the appetite in Coventry for a political party that sticks up for ordinary people. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain show the potential for building an anti-austerity alternative. The Socialist Party will build TUSC and fight for bold socialist policies to combat not just austerity, but the cause of austerity – the capitalist system.

Sign up here to get involved in the Socialist Campaign Team for the election!

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

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