Junior doctors strike remains strong

Junior doctors strike remains strong

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Striking doctors on the picket line today

Junior doctors in Coventry and across the country took another day of strike action today as part of their campaign against the imposition of new contracts by despised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The doctors plan to escalate their action to an all-out 48 hour strike later this month, and the morale and public support was still with them. Most cars going past honked their horns and gave a thumbs up – as one of the doctors told us, most patients support the strike because they recognise that it is a strike to save the NHS.

There was some discussion about the planned legal challenge to the imposition of the contracts, and one of the strikers told us that while he hoped it was successful it could be a long and drawn out process – “and we want to beat this imposition by August, not in a years time!”

Coventry Labour council schools chief sets up academies firm

Coventry Labour council schools chief sets up academies firm

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Cllr David Kershaw

A Coventry Labour councillor has set up a business designed to take over schools and turn them into academies. Councillor David Kershaw, who is cabinet member for education, is heading a new academy company called the West Midlands Academy Trust.

Writing in the Coventry Observer, Les Reid revealed that the company was set up just last month by Cllr Kershaw and is believed “to be in line to win Tory government permission to take over five struggling schools in Birmingham. The five schools are understood to be those which make up the Perry Beeches Trust and are already Academies. The fact that these schools are struggling is a clear indictment of the government’s Academies programme.

Cllr Kershaw has done this at a time when Labour are campaigning against Tory plans to force schools to become academies, and have been distributing leaflets around Woodlands ward claiming local Labour council candidate Patricia Hetherton is “fully behind the campaign to save Woodlands Academy”. After the release of the Panama Papers implicating leading politicians in tax dodging, this is yet another example of hypocrisy.

Hetherton’s leaflet also claims that “[she] knew that the opening of Finham Park 2 would have an impact on student numbers in the area”. “Local” Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson also features on the leaflet, and last month he said the same to the Coventry Telegraph. However, while they say this now, Cllr Kershaw wrote to the Department for Education last year expressing support for Finham Park 2!

Cllr Kershaw has also been key in advocating and pushing through the council’s library closure plans, and the (currently shelved) plans to cut transport to schools for disabled children. As a former headteacher, it is shocking that he seems willing to make cuts that will clearly damage children’s education.

Other partners in the business include Alan East, a Labour candidate for Bablake ward in May. Locally this is yet another example of Labour saying one thing and doing another – how do Kershaw’s actions compare with the anti-austerity policies of Jeremy Corbyn?

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are campaigning against the enforced academisation of all schools and will be balloted over strike action against funding cuts and threats to teacher’s contracts and pay and conditions. We give them our full support – concerted industrial action can stop these plans and bring this government down!

Protest against closure of Woodlands Academy

Protest against closure of Woodlands Academy

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Protest outside Woodlands Academy (photo Cov Telegraph)

Over 200 staff, parents and pupils gathered outside the gates of Woodlands Academy on a very cold and wet afternoon to protest at the proposals to effectively close Coventry’s only all boys school. Please read and share the below report from Jane Nellist, joint divisional secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers (NUT) which represents many teaching staff at the school.

A consultation letter was sent to all parents and staff outlining plans to close Woodlands School and merge pupils into the neighbouring Tile Hill Academy, currently an all girls school, and that it would be renamed and become a co-ed school in 2017.

Woodlands School was built in 1954 as a purpose built Comprehensive school, one of the very first Comprehensive schools in the country.  It became an Academy in 2011 even though teachers and unions protested against the proposals and took strike action against the conversion.  At the time, unions warned that there was no guarantees of extra funding and new school buildings. That’s exactly what has happened.

We know that by 2020, Coventry will need to find many more school places for children that are currently in Primary Schools in the city due to population growth, and that’s without accounting for further housebuilding in the city.

This situation highlights the government’s chaotic  education policies with the growth in Academies along with the demise of the Local Authority and sensible democratic accountability, oversight and planning for school places. It is also a consequence of the government’s policy of agreeing to Free school expansion, including a Free school in the area, Finham 2, which has added to the destabilisation of school places in this area of Coventry.

The Department for Education, whilst agreeing to the Free Schools and pushing schools into becoming Academies is failing to step in and support schools. The marketisation of our schools and increased competition, encouraged by the Tories, is proving a disaster.

This has all contributed to the very worrying situation of the planned closure of one of Coventry’s schools, and the job losses of teachers and support staff at Woodlands.

Parents are angry, pupils are unsettled and staff are left with not knowing if they have a job.

Coventry parents, pupils and education staff deserve far better.

 

 

Today has been named ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’

Today has been named ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’

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Why? Because it has been revealed that it will have taken top bosses in the UK just 22 hours to ‘earn’ what the average worker would take home in the entire 12 months of 2016.

The reality for many workers is even worse as the High Pay Centre, who conducted the research used the median UK salary of £27,645.  Large numbers of people are on zero hour contracts, or forced in to casualised, part time jobs so even attaining the ‘average’ salary is nothing more than a pipe dream.

This comes at the same time as many workers are struggling to make ends meet due to increased job insecurity, pay that has not kept up with rising prices in recent times and where the pressure of work is causing huge stress and anxiety with the growing obsession with ‘performance targets’.

The figures released today show once again why we need to fight to get rid of this system. Under capitalism, a system driven by profit, obscenities like Fat Cat Tuesday will continue. In reality, every day is a Fat Cat Day for the minority who own and control the wealth. We need a massive fight for better pay. The Socialist Party demands a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, with no exemptions.

We can look to the United States where a movement heavily influenced by Socialists is gaining ground in the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage. At the same time, we need to challenge and ultimately replace profit driven capitalism with a socialist society, that puts human need before the profit of a tiny minority. Join us in fighting for socialism!

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.

Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies welcome – now Coventry Labour councillors must fight cuts

Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies welcome – now Coventry Labour councillors must fight cuts

Dave Nellist and Jeremy Corbyn marching

Jeremy marching with Dave Nellist against the expulsion of socialists from the Labour Party. Photo credit Dave Sinclair

Jeremy Corbyn’s emergence as the front-runner in the Labour leadership election has shown the appetite that exists across the country for anti-austerity policies. Polls indicate that Jeremy is on course for a landslide win, with some bookies already paying out on the prospect!

Coventry Socialist Party would welcome a Corbyn victory, and hope Labour adopts his anti-austerity programme. A Labour Party committed to opposing cuts and backing that up in its actions could inspire the support of millions of working class people across the country.

There are over 7000 Labour councillors in the country and, at time of writing, only 450 have publicly endorsed Jeremy’s campaign. That includes just 3 in Nuneaton and Bedworth Council, two on Warwick Council but none from Coventry. When George Osborne demands even more cuts in council services this autumn, it sadly doesn’t sound like Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity call is going to have many supporters amongst Coventry’s 41 Labour councillors.

We’ve stood anti-cuts election candidates across Coventry, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, against Labour councillors who have voted to pass on Tory cuts. Coventry’s Labour council has voted to close down libraries, attack trade union facilities, sack lollipop men and women and decimate public services in our city. We don’t think that’s what a Labour council should be doing – that’s why we’ve lobbied them along with anti-cuts campaigners and trade unions and demanded that they fight cuts, and that’s why we stood candidates against them when they refused to do so.

If Jeremy wins, he won’t just have to make changes to the Parliamentary Labour Party, and to the undemocratic party machinery – he’ll need to change how Labour councils respond to Tory cuts. Instead of spinelessly voting for more and more austerity measures, they should be fighting back. Instead of cutting facility time for trade unions, they should work with them to build an anti-cuts movement. Instead of letting dodgy landlords run riot, they should cap rents and build houses.

Coventry’s Labour councillors should pledge to use some of the £81million they have in reserves to fund services, while building a campaign to get back the money that central Government has cut.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership could inspire an anti-austerity fightback in our workplaces and our communities. Councils should be part of this fightback – but if, next May, Coventry’s Labour councillors go into the election promising more “reluctant” cuts, we will stand against them offering a socialist, anti-cuts alternative.

As Russell Brand prepares to take on Farage…time to build the fight for socialist revolution

As Russell Brand prepares to take on Farage…time to build the fight for socialist revolution!

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Brand

Many people across the UK are waiting in eager anticipation for the battle between Russell Brand and Nigel Farage on Thursday night’s BBC Question Time programme (11 December).

Over the recent period Russell Brand has been an outspoken critic of austerity and the political establishment where all three parties, Tory, Labour and Lib Dem, believe ordinary people should pay for the crisis. The 99% suffer at the hands of global capitalism and the 1% at the top continue to prosper. Brand’s series of shows, ‘The Trews’, have become popular as an expression of anger against the system, while his book, simply titled ‘Revolution’, captures the growing mood for change in society.

Meanwhile Farage has falsely painted himself as an opponent of the same political establishment, which is rich considering he is of true right-wing banking stock and would carry out even worse austerity given half the chance. UKIP, despite how it portrays itself, is very much part of the capitalist system, and part of the problem. For example, its two new MPs were recruited from the Conservative Party!

Fire minister Penny Mordaunt is also on the Question Time panel; three days after the latest firefighters’ strike in defence of pensions see the following footage of the demonstration in Buckinghamshire to defend sacked firefighter Ricky Matthews.

However the debate pans out on Thursday night, the Socialist Party is dedicated to fighting for revolutionary change and putting working people in control. There are sufficient resources in Britain and worldwide for us all to lead much better and fulfilled lives but under the status quo it is in fact the outmoded capitalist system which is holding us back.

If you agree with Russell’s call for a revolution and want to fight for socialism we need to make sure it is not just a pipe dream but that collectively we make it a reality.

The time to act is now – The Revolution needs you! Join us in the Socialist Party and our sister parties worldwide in 45 countries as part of the Committee for a Workers’ International, and let us make it happen!

If you are interested in joining with us to build a revolutionary socialist force in Britain and across the globe fill in the form below and we will be in touch.

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