Coventry Socialists hit the streets campaigning against the cuts and in support of junior doctors

Coventry Socialists hit the streets campaigning against the cuts and in support of junior doctors

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Sarah Smith campaigning at Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill

Coventry Socialist Party, part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), were out campaigning across Coventry today, two days after the local elections.

We are continuing to build the opposition to austerity, including cuts to local services such as our libraries and play centres. At the same time, it is important to build support for workers taking action like the junior doctors. The thousands of leaflets that we distributed during the election all called for support for the junior doctors in their dispute as part of the battle to defend our NHS

Our candidate in Woodlands ward, Sarah Smith, met residents who had voted for her as the TUSC candidate, thanking them for their support.

Sarah said

I would like to say ‘thank you’ to the to the 160 voters who voted for me this year; on election day we were out on a campaign stall in Woodlands ward for 4 hours, but my campaigning is not just during election time; it is day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out to build the campaigns  to save our services and fight to stop the cuts.

For example this was shown in my 2,208 signature petition to Save Tile Hill library, a combined petition to save Jardine Youth Centre and Sure Start centre, and being part of the Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax team who stopped two bedroom tax evictions last year.

This year I joined the protest to save Woodlands school; the Labour candidate claimed in her election leaflet she was campaigning to save it however many Labour councillors have supported schools becoming academies. This shows that we need real opposition to the Tories and as part of TUSC I will be working to increase this opposition.

Want to get involved with our campaigns or join the Socialists? Fill in the form below and we will be in touch!

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Why I’m standing for TUSC in Woodlands

Why I’m standing for TUSC in Woodlands

Sarah Smith with other anti bedroom tax campaigners stopping an eviction

Sarah Smith with other anti bedroom tax campaigners stopping an eviction

Our candidate in Woodlands is local campaigner Sarah Smith. Sarah explains below why she is standing as a Socialist candidate


I have been an active supporter of the Save Coventry Libraries campaign since the campaign was set up and I support the campaign to save Woodlands School as well as other local services. I also helped to start Coventry against the Bedroom Tax, working with other campaigners to stop being residents being evicted.

Unlike the local Labour candidate Patricia Hetherton, and other Labour candidates in Coventry, I support Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies in words and deeds and I will stand up and fight to save our services against vicious Tory attacks being implemented by the Labour Council.

The trade unions UNITE and UNISON have passed policy that calls on the council to use some of the £84 million of reserves to hold off the cuts, which would buy time for a mass campaign to be built. Do the other candidates also support union policy on this?

While local Labour leaflets carry the headline “Save Our School”, their Councillors supported the establishment of Finham Park 2 which has contributed to the school being threatened with closure! I’m against academies and free schools, and support teachers, parents and pupils who campaign against them.

I am standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) because it’s a true left wing socialist alternative, made up of working class people like me. I will continue to campaign for the people of Coventry, and against the capitalist lie that austerity has to happen.

Live in Woodlands and want to help Sarah? Get in touch by completing the form below!

 

Lively Coventry protest against forced academies

Lively Coventry protest against forced academies

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Protesting at the Department of Education, Coventry

A lively protest took place in Coventry earlier this evening against the government’s plans to force every school to become an academy.

The demonstration, held outside the Department of Education building and organised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) was supported by teachers, parents, school  and university students. It also drew support from members of UNISON, UNITE, GMB, CWU and Coventry TUC.

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Jane Nellist with Sam Kempster

Jane Nellist, recently re-elected to the national executive of the NUT, chaired the protest explaining why her union was so opposed to the Tory privatisation plans.

Eileen Hunter, an NUT activist from Warwickshire spoke passionately about how these plans needs to be fought.

Sam, a student from Coventry University, spoke about the need to forge links, and brought solidarity greetings from Coventry students.

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Hands off our Schools!

Parents also spoke about the effects that academisation has had on the education of their children.

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Outside the Department of Education

Paul Hunt, assistant branch secretary of Coventry City UNISON, explained how the Tory proposal will be an attack on UNISON members in schools. He spoke in support of a co-ordinated fight back between the public sector unions pointing out that the government is weak – witness the resignation of IDS and the splits over Europe. The junior doctors have shown a lead, now is the time for a general strike in this country!

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On the protest

All speakers showed that the fight must now be taken to the government.

Jane Nellist closed the protest explaining how her union conference this week must come out with clear plans for industrial action and that Coventry NUT would be continuing a campaign after Easter to defend education.

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.

 

 

Coventry Tory councillor attacks benefit claimants

Coventry Tory councillor attacks benefit claimants

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Cllr Julia Lepoidevin (Woodlands)

A Tory councillor in Coventry has attacked benefit claimants during a full council meeting – after previously calling food bank users “selfish”.

Cllr Julia Lepoidevin, who represents Woodlands ward and is shadow cabinet member for children’s services, claimed that “What drives families into poverty is more than just income measures. It is addiction, family breakdown, domestic abuse, debt, leaving school with no qualifications. Give an addict an increase in benefit and it will be spent on the addiction, create further debt, cause mental health issues and break up families.”

While no-one would deny that the causes of poverty can be complex, Cllr Lepoidevin deliberately chose to attack a tiny minority of vulnerable people rather than accepting that many ordinary people will be forced into poverty by her party’s benefit cuts. Labour councillors rightly attacked her for these disgraceful comments – unfortunately, they are passing on these cuts at a local level and they are hurting Coventry people with council tax rises.

This is not Cllr Lepoidevin’s first attack on working class people – in 2014, she called food bank users “selfish” and claimed they spend money on drugs and alcohol rather than food and rent.

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Sarah Smith (left) protesting against the eviction of a bedroom tax victim

Sarah Smith, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in Woodlands ward, said the comments were “appalling”. “Not content with just making these cuts, Cllr Lepoidevin wants to rub salt in the wound. I will continue to campaign against her and any other councillors who want to attack ordinary people.”

TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge

TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge 

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38 Degrees campaigners with election candidates including from TUSC

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates attended an event organised by the 38 Degrees campaign against the privatisation of the NHS. Despite Labour’s claim to oppose privatisation, no Labour candidates turned up – nor did any Tories, Lib Dems or UKIP.

The TUSC candidate for Foleshill, Jim Hensman, said “Labour thinks private companies in the NHS should be allowed to make 5% profit – that’s not good enough. TUSC would kick all private companies out of the NHS, and have a fully publicly owned National Health Service, free at the point of use.”

Despite TUSC’s support of 38 Degrees’ stance on a number of issues, including opposing TTIP and NHS privatisation, 38 Degrees have unfortunately refused to include TUSC on their “Vote Match” quiz which shows people which party they most agree with on some issues. This is particularly disappointing given the policies and campaigns of TUSC.

We applaud the work of 38 Degrees for the work they have done in raising awareness of a number of issues, and the local activists from 38 Degrees who work hard to promote some excellent causes, and we will continue to support this where we can. We urge 38 Degrees nationally to start including TUSC in their election campaign – after all, we are standing over 800 candidates in the local and general elections!

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