Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bread Lines or Picket Lines - Review of 2013
















We began 2013 with three successes. Every year North Somerset Council meet in January to debate their budget and again in February to approve their budget. Since 2010, and even before, this has meant cuts to jobs and services. Again this year we asked the council to reject the council tax freeze bribe offered by central government, which far from helping their budget position has made matters worse by creating budget holes for future years. This year the council finally took on board what we had been saying, rejected the freeze grant, and increased council tax by a small amount in order to go someway to protecting vital public services. In January we also found out that the Court of Appeal had agreed to reconsider the judgement on the council’s cuts to Youth Services.

As part of our lobby of the council budget meeting in February a UNISON Rep spoke at the meeting asking councillors to set up a working group to look at paying the Living Wage to all council and schools staff. It will come as no surprise to many members to hear that almost 900 council and schools staff, mainly women, earn less than the living wage (at that point £7.45 an hour), with the bottom rate of local government pay being just above the national minimum wage (at that point £6.19 an hour). Other councils in the UK had begun to commit to increasing the wages of the lowest paid grades. At their meeting the leader of North Somerset Council agreed to our request to set up a Living Wage working group.

In March we continued to lobby the council over the Living Wage, as they had put the promised working group on hold pending the outcome of the local government pay claim for 2013. We also began to consult local government members over a 1% pay increase, which was eventually accepted by a ballot of members on only a 12% turnout. Also in March Hugo Chávez, the President of Venezuela died.

In April UNISON members working in the NHS were consulted on a 1% pay offer, which they also accepted. In April the new Health and Social Care Act came into force, and our greatest national institution the NHS was made ready to be sold off to private companies. Also in April North Somerset UNISON became an accredited Living Wage employer. We only employ 1 full-time member of staff and a couple of people on a casual basis, but given we were campaigning for the Living Wage we thought it was important to get accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. On 8th April one of the greatest enemies of the trade union movement - Margaret Thatcher - died, and her death divided the country, as her politics had done in life.

In May we found out that the South West NHS Pay Cartel which had threatened our members at Weston Hospital with regional pay had, at least temporarily, disbanded. But our members at Weston Hospital faced a new threat – that of the possible privatisation of the hospital. The branch immediately set up some training on procurement for Hospital Reps and launched a campaign to stop the privatisation. Also in May, in partnership with North Somerset Council, we organised an event for Learning at Work Day - the theme was saving money in an age of Austerity - organisations such as our local credit union Somerset Savings and Loans, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Centre for Sustainable Energy took part.

In June we organised a public meeting to draw attention and create awareness about the privatisation of our local hospital. A number of North Somerset councillors (Mike Bell, Don Davies and Catherine Gibbons) spoke at the meeting, as well as Dr Gabriel Scally from the University of the West of England, Dr Richard Lawson, UNISON South West Regional Secretary Joanne Kaye and Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC. The People United and the TUC Austerity Uncovered buses which had been touring the UK also attended the meeting. The TUC bus went on to visit people on the Bournville Estate, one of whom was featured in the video made of the TUC tour, speaking about the impact of the Bedroom Tax. You can watch  Debbie from Weston super Mare at the following link 4 minutes 40 seconds in, as well as some coverage of the hospital meeting 10 minutes in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL46w8Jnzvw

In June the North Somerset Youth Services Cuts Appeal was heard in the High Court, but we had to wait until November to get the result. Also in June the branch organised an outing for UNISON members to the historic Curzon Cinema in Clevedon to see Ken Loach's film The Spirit of '45 - a film showing how our great welfare state was created, but also very sadly how much of it has been taken away by successive governments since Thatcher.

In July North Somerset Council’s Living Wage working group finally had their first meeting. Two UNISON Reps attended the meeting, along with a number of North Somerset councillors. The working group set out to look at the costs and benefits of implementing the living wage for North Somerset Council staff and Schools staff. It also looked at the possibility of encouraging council contractors and other North Somerset employers to pay their staff the living wage. Also in July we found out that 11 organisations including 5 private sector companies had expressed an interest in running Weston Hospital. UNISON’s campaign to stop the hospital being sold off became a community campaign – the new group met for the first time in July to set its priorities, one of which was to create more awareness of what was shaping up to be a very secretive process. The campaign group generated a lot of publicity over the summer, including a great photo opportunity on Weston beach with campaign members lying on the beach to form the NHS Logo for its 65th Birthday.

In July the School Crossing Patrols celebrated their Diamond Jubilee across the country. We had no idea at that point, but by the end of the year North Somerset's Lollipop men and women would be amongst the council's proposed cuts for 2014.

In August UNISON began consulting local government members on the pay claim for 2014. Over the summer Price Waterhouse Cooper were hired by the council to look at ways of making further cuts - their recommendations will be made public in January.

In September Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Weston super Mare for a Tory party lunch at the Royal Hotel. The Weston Hospital Campaign group were there to meet him, but sadly didn’t get to see him as Jeremy sneaked in the back way. The local TV news covered our demonstration as well as showing an extended item on the conflict of interest of one of the Hospital Procurement Project board members who is a consultant for one of the private companies who have expressed an interest in running the hospital.

Also in September the branch took a coach load of members to the TUC organised Save our NHS march at the Tory party conference in Manchester. We marched with 50,000 others right past the conference venue, but still the BBC failed to cover the demonstration, with one of their correspondents saying on Twitter that he was told by security guards at the conference venue that he could not film the march as it went past. Even so we were blessed with beautiful sunshine, and a great day was had by all the demonstrators.

In October we began our campaign to get North Somerset Council to sign up to UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. Currently many Home Care workers are not paid travelling time - this means that although their hourly rate of pay may be above the minimum wage, their actual pay falls below the minimum wage because of the time spent travelling. We met with senior officers in Adult Services who gave us contact details for all the local providers. We wrote to all of them, enclosing the charter and asking them to provide answers to a number of questions around paying for travelling time, paying the living wage, use of zero hours contracts, and paying sick pay. Once the results are in we will compile them into a report for the council. Two UNISON Reps also attended the Home Care providers forum to talk about the Ethical Care Charter. One of our members who works in a private sector care home provided a case study for the branch, which was also picked up by UNISON nationally and made available on the national website.

In November the Weston Hospital campaign continued with a demo outside the hospital on 5th November. Also in November the Local Government Pay Campaign for 2014 got off the ground. The branch wrote to all North Somerset councillors, both our local MPs, and all our Local Government members. We have also organised meetings for members into next year to keep them updated.

Also in November we got the news that the Youth Services appeal had been successful and North Somerset Council were found to have acted illegally in cutting youth services because of their failure to consult young people and also their failure to consider their equalities duties. But sadly the Appeal Court did not reverse the cuts because of the amount of time (almost 2 years) that had passed since the council made the decision in February 2012.

In December the Living Wage working group concluded its work and a draft report has been written which will be presented to the Community and Corporate Organisation Policy & Scrutiny Panel on 21st January. Sadly, although councillors agreed with the morality of paying a living wage, for financial reasons the recommendation is not to implement at this time. Also in December our local credit union Somerset Savings and Loans signed up to UNISON's national network of credit unions. We strongly encourage North Somerset UNISON members to look into opening an account with them as an ethical alternative to banks.

On 5th December we heard the sad news of the death of Nelson Mandela, and all over the world people were united in their great respect for a man whose struggle had resulted in the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa.

During 2013 we said Goodbye to a number of long standing UNISON Reps and branch officers. Jon Astridge, Lucinda Holdsworth and Sandy Flood all took retirement and stood down as Reps. Tina Baker stood down as Branch Treasurer, and Ollie Pratlett decided to stop running his retired members meetings. We thank them all for the hard work they have done for the branch over the years.

Throughout the year the branch has been involved in numerous service reviews and consultations on policies, as well as the TUPE transfer into the council of our members from Public Health. The branch has also represented well over 200 members in individual cases. Throughout the year we have also worked with colleagues in the PCS, NUT, UNITE and RMT through the Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council. We have also sent delegates to a number of UNISON conferences, the national People's Assembly in London, as well as to the Bristol People's Assembly.

We will remember 2013 as a year of so-called welfare reform or social security cuts as I prefer to call them, including the most cruel of all - the bedroom tax. It will also be remembered as a year of foodbanks, zero hours contracts, pay day loans and low pay - what a civilised society we live in! The Tories showed what a truly nasty party they are by laughing and jeering during the foodbank debate in parliament, and our two local MPs in North Somerset both voted against the motion to investigate the causes of food poverty in Britain. We will also remember 2013 as the year the Royal Mail was privatised, with no consultation with the people that use it and own it - i.e. us.

In 2013 more employment rights were chipped away at by the Coalition government, including the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunals, and the reduction in time for consultation on redundancies. UNISON is going to court to challenge the employment tribunal fees. The government are also proposing a gagging law which will prevent trade unions, community groups, charities and others from campaigning in the year running up to the General Election by capping the amount of money that can be spent on campaigning. Even the party of the Trade Union movement, started to plan its split from working people with a proposal to break the Labour Link.

In Grangemouth we saw big bad capitalism in action, when the billionaire owner of the oil refinery held the workers, the union, the town and even the whole country of Scotland to ransom. 2013 was also a year of many strikes involving our sister unions - teachers, civil servants, postal workers, firefighters - all stood up for their rights by taking industrial action. Towards the end of the year they were joined by UNISON members working in Universities who rejected their 1% pay off, at a time when their bosses are earning on average £250,000 a year.

As we start 2014 we will continue to fight the cuts in North Somerset – we have lobbies planned for the council meetings in January and February, as well as members meetings on pay. In 2014 the recently merged Adults and Children's directorates at the council will be re-organised, and job losses seem likely. In January we will know what Price Waterhouse Cooper are recommending in terms of further cuts, and we will oppose any further job losses and privatisations.  We will also continue to campaign against the privatisation of Weston Hospital.

2014 will be the 30th anniversary of the 1984-85 Miners Strike, and in the coming year UNISON members will need to show the solidarity and commitment that miners showed over that year long strike, if we want to achieve our aims of protecting terms and conditions, jobs and services. We all need to rediscover the collective aspect of our movement, and realise that our real power lies in us all standing together to fight injustice. In the words of Nelson Mandela  speaking to the ANC Transvaal Congress in 1953: "You must protect and defend your trade unions... You must make every home, every shack and every mud structure where our people live, a branch of the trade union movement and never surrender." UNISON members need to decide whether they want to stand in Bread Lines or on Picket Lines.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Local Government Workers - write to your councillor and MP to ask them for a decent pay rise in 2014

We are asking all UNISON members working in Local Government and Schools to write to their councillors and MPs to ask them for a decent pay rise in 2014. You can either compose your own letter or cut and paste the text below and use the Write To Them website - all you have to do is go to https://www.writetothem.com/ and enter your postcode.

Dear Councillor/MP (give name)

I have lived in your constituency for (insert number of) years. I am writing to ask you to support UNISON’s campaign for fair pay for local government workers.

UNISON is seeking a pay rise of at least £1 an hour for all the people like me who are keeping council services and schools running in the face of ongoing job and pay cuts. The Local Government Employers are now consulting councils on this claim. Since 2010, I have had a three-year pay freeze and just a 1% increase last year. That means my pay has fallen by 18% in real terms.

Please lobby our council to get them to support my union’s claim and get our council to put pressure on the Local Government Employers to make a decent pay offer and on central government to fund it.

Local government pay and conditions are by far the worst in the public sector. Since 2010, not only has my pay fallen by 18% after inflation, my (car allowance/unsocial hours payments/ sick pay etc if applicable) have been cut too. With food, fuel and travel costs going through the roof, I will not be able to manage.

I do understand that our pay claim comes at a time of unprecedented cuts in local government funding by central government. However, local government has saved a quarter on the pay bill and reserves have risen to over £19 billion in the last two years. The extra £2.3 billion reserves banked is more than the equivalent of an extra £1 an hour for local government workers.

If I had a £1 an hour extra, I would spend it locally rather than having sleepless nights about debt and how to make ends meet. So a £1 an hour would give our local businesses a boost and help give the economy going too. It could pay for itself in providing more tax and national insurance ‘take’ for government and less spent on in work benefits. These savings could be re-cycled to councils to pay for our claim.

I’m sure you will agree that your local council and school support workers are doing a great job. But I feel that enough is enough. We have shown our commitment to keeping our local services going against the odds. I am now asking you to show your commitment to us.

As you know, there will be local and European elections in May. Councillors and MEPs will find it hard to get the support of local council and school support workers unless they do something now about the real hardship we face.

Please help make our employers and government see that local government workers deserve better.

Kind Regards

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Impact of Poverty Wages on one North Somerset Care Worker

Shirley works as a care worker in a residential home. She is paid less than the living wage, currently £7.65 an hour. Her husband is retired and they live in rented accommodation. Although Shirley has had a small pay increase over the last few years, she has found it increasingly difficult to pay her bills as prices have increased much faster than her wages. She has used savings to pay her bills, but these are now running out and she is very worried about the future. A pay increase to take her up to the living wage and yearly increases after that would help her and her colleagues make ends meet.

Shirley told us that most of her work colleagues earn less than the living wage, and many earn only just above the minimum wage. She thinks that this has an impact for the employer as they see a very high turnover of staff, and often have to use agency workers. Constantly changing staff also has an impact on residents who get used to particular staff. In addition although Shirley’s employer provides mandatory training such as manual handling and food safety, Shirley and her colleagues have to push for training to achieve their NVQ levels 2 and 3.

Shirley loves her job and finds it rewarding, but she told us that when she meets new people and they ask her what she does for a living she feels embarrassed to tell them that she is a care worker. She thinks this is to do with the poor image that working in care has – “people think that anyone can do care work, or only people who can’t do anything else work in care”. She feels this is also to do with the poor pay for care work and the poor status that the job has.

Shirley thinks that care work is undervalued and underrated - “people think that all care workers do is wipe people’s bottoms.” But there’s so much more to it than that. As well as helping residents wash, dress, and eat, care workers also have to cope with their constantly changing health needs, and sadly some residents need end of life care. Care workers also have to cope with the emotions of residents families as well as their own emotions. Despite all this Shirley finds her job incredibly rewarding and this is especially due to the interaction with residents and their families, many of whom are wonderful people who have had amazing lives.

North Somerset UNISON is campaigning for the Living Wage and also for all Care Providers to sign up to UNISON's Ethical Care Charter - more information can be found at this link: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/ethical-care-campaign-launched

You can also read Shirley's Story on the national UNISON website:

http://www.unison.org.uk/our-campaigns/unison-campaigns/worth-it/articles/

https://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/local-government/key-issues/homecare/your-stories/



Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Local Government Pay Claim 2014 - Members Meetings

UNISON, UNITE and GMB have submitted the following Local Government Pay Claim for 2014-15:

A minimum increase of £1 an hour on scale point 5 to achieve the Living Wage and the same flat rate increase on all other scale points.

After a 3 year pay freeze and a 1% pay increase for 2013, UNISON members working in Local Government have lost 18% of their pay. Accepting a pay freeze has not saved jobs - since 2010 at North Somerset Council 225 full-time and 150 part-time jobs have gone - that's almost 400 jobs - it's about a quarter of the council's workforce. During that time the council has underspent on staff salaries by almost £2.5 million and this money has been put into council reserves. Although inflation has started to fall recently, over the period of our pay freeze we have seen massive rises in essential costs such as food, energy and fuel bills. This year we must say that enough is enough and we must all get behind the campaign for a decent pay rise.

Find out more here

Watch Heather Wakefield, UNISON's Head of Local Government talking about our pay on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deQraJIlh-o#t=40

Watch Local Government workers talking about the services they provide and why we're worth a decent pay rise this coming year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mexWXDkg1Pg

Come to a meeting to find out what you can do to ensure you get a decent pay rise this year.

3rd December 2013 at 12.30 pm at Castlewood - room  G11

18th December 2013 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall - New Council Chamber

8th January at 12.30 pm at Castlewood – room 1.08 Castlewood

28th January 2014 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall -  Kenn Room

12th February at 12.30 pm in the Old Council Chamber at the Town Hall (Annual General Meeting)

13th February at 12.30 pm in rooms G08/9/10 at Castlewood (Annual General Meeting)

11th March 2014 at 12.30 pm at Castlewood – room 1.08

27th March 2014 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall - Kenn Room

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

North Somerset Council Youth Services - Court of Appeal Judgement

Public Interest Lawyers Press Release

Court of Appeal Finds that North Somerset Council Failed to Meet Legal Obligations in Taking Decisions to Cut Youth Services’ Budget

In a judgment handed down today, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that North Somerset Council failed to act in accordance with the law when taking a decision in February 2012 to reduce funding to youth services in the North Somerset area by 72% over a three year period.

In a 30 page judgment, the Court of Appeal confirms that Aaron Hunt, the 22 year old youth service user from Banwell who challenged the legality of the Council’s decision, had persuaded it on the ‘substantive points’ he had raised in argument. The Court found:

That there was insufficient evidence before the first instance Court to conclude that the Council had taken adequate steps to ascertain the views of young persons before taking the decision to cut funding.

That the first instance Court could not assume that Councillors had read critical equalities documentation when it was not in the paperwork put before them at the time of making the decision.

That the Council was not entitled to rely upon the interventions of third party objectors, who complained at the Council meeting of 21 February 2012 that the cuts would have far reaching and damaging consequences, to demonstrate that Councillors were fully aware of the equalities impact of their decision to cut funding.

By agreeing that Mr Hunt’s criticisms of the Council’s processes were substantively correct, the Court of Appeal found that the first instance Court had erred in its interpretation of the law when it first considered Mr Hunt’s claim. Having corrected that position, the Court of Appeal has validated the concerns raised by Mr Hunt about the Council’s decision making process.

The Court of Appeal had the option of asking the Council to revisit the initial decision to reduce the budget. However, due to the time that had passed since that decision, the Court of Appeal did not ultimately consider it appropriate to require the Council to return to it on this occasion.

Cianan Good of Public Interest Lawyers said as follows:

The Court of Appeal’s judgment today confirms what Aaron Hunt and others in the North Somerset area have complained about since the Council’s February 2012 decision: that the Council did not consider their views, and therefore did not act lawfully, before taking the decision to cut the youth services budget. Although the Court has ultimately determined that it will not require the Council to revisit that decision, this does not detract from the fact that the Council’s processes have been found to be wanting. It is hoped the Council will now give appropriate consideration to the criticisms made of it in the judgment and that any future decisions taken, whether in relation to youth services or any other important public service, will be sure to respect the views of those within the North Somerset area as well as the law.

For further information, contact: Cianan Good of Public Interest Lawyers
Telephone: 0121 515 5069 E-mail: info@publicinterestlawyers.co.uk


The full judgement can be found at:
http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/go_files/files/P4A9BAJ11PCB.pdf

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Stop the Privatisation of Weston Hospital - Lobby of Board on 5th November

Despite the pouring rain members of UNISON and UNITE stood outside Weston Hospital early this morning to draw attention to the proposed privatisation of Weston General Hospital. Special Thanks to Sue Orwin and Caroline Emory who came all the way from Torbay to join us.

Listen to the Weston Hospital Campaign Chair Steve Timmins on BBC Radio Bristol - it's 2 hours 9 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jw6hv

Here's a few photos from today:




Thursday, 3 October 2013

UNISON's Ethical Care Charter

UNISON is asking all councils to sign up to an Ethical Care Charter. The over-riding objective behind the Charter is to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions which a) do not routinely shortchange clients and b) ensure the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels. Rather than councils seeking to achieve savings by driving down the pay and conditions that have been the norm for council – employed staff, they should be using these as a benchmark against which to level up.

UNISON's Ethical Care Charter for the commissioning of homecare services

Stage 1

The starting point for commissioning of visits will be client need and not minutes or tasks. Workers will have the freedom to provide appropriate care and will be given time to talk to their clients

The time allocated to visits will match the needs of the clients. In general, 15-minute visits will not be used as they undermine the dignity of the clients

Homecare workers will be paid for their travel time, their travel costs and other necessary expenses such as mobile phones

Visits will be scheduled so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients or leave their clients early to get to the next one on time

Those homecare workers who are eligible must be paid statutory sick pay

Stage 2 

Clients will be allocated the same homecare worker(s) wherever possible

Zero hour contracts will not be used in place of permanent contracts

Providers will have a clear and accountable procedure for following up staff concerns about their clients’ wellbeing

All homecare workers will be regularly trained to the necessary standard to provide a good service (at no cost to themselves and in work time)

Homecare workers will be given the opportunity to regularly meet co-workers to share best practice and limit their isolation

Stage 3

All homecare workers will be paid at least the Living Wage (As of October 2013 it is currently £7.45 an hour for the whole of the UK apart from London. The Living Wage will be calculated again in November 2013 and in each subsequent November). If Council employed homecare workers paid above this rate are outsourced it should be on the basis that the provider is required, and is funded, to maintain these pay levels throughout the contract

All homecare workers will be covered by an occupational sick pay scheme to ensure that staff do not feel pressurised to work when they are ill in order to protect the welfare of their vulnerable clients.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Save our NHS March at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester

Members of North Somerset UNISON and Bridgwater Trades Union Council attended today's march in Manchester - 50,000 people marched against the cuts and privatisation of our NHS.

The march was so huge we didn't make it to the rally, so we missed The Farm doing All Together Now - here's a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7MwXniOD44

The Manchester Evening News gave the march some great coverage -
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/happened-manchester-anti-cuts-protest-6110929#.Ukg-oORZetI.twitter

Thanks to our coach stewards Eve Wilson and Jakob Wollmer.

Here are some photos from the march:


















Friday, 13 September 2013

Weston Hospital Campaign Welcome Committee for Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was lunching with the local Conservatives at the Royal Hotel in Weston today. The Weston Hospital Campaign group were there to meet him. Sadly Jeremy decided to sneak in the back way.

Watch the ITV New coverage at this link: http://www.itv.com/news/west/story/2013-09-13/health-secretary-visits-somerset/

Watch the BBC coverage at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pdADL927GM

Listen to Steve Timmins, Weston Hospital Campaign Group Chair, on BBC Radio Bristol - it's an hour and 20 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fjwm1

Here's some photos from today:














































Saturday, 24 August 2013

Local Government Pay Claim for 2014 - we need members views

The UNISON NJC Committee met on Thursday, 1 August to discuss the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2014/15.  The Committee felt our core objectives should be to restore pay levels and ensure that the Living Wage becomes the basic rate of pay in local government.

The UNISON NJC Committee agreed to consult branches on the following two alternative options for the proposed 2014/15 NJC pay claim:

OPTION 1
The Living Wage (LW) hourly rate to be the minimum pay rate, with an equivalent percentage increase on all other spinal column points

Or

OPTION 2
A flat rate increase of £1 an hour on all pay points, which would achieve the current Living Wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point

Full details of the pay claim consultation can be found here.

UNISON needs your views on what our negotiators should be aiming to achieve for the 2014 Local Government Pay Claim. Please read this blog entry, download the full pay claim document and let the branch know what you think by 3rd October 2013. You can talk to your UNISON steward, or phone 01934 634759 or email unison@n-somerset.gov.uk

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Save Our NHS - March and Rally on 29th September - Coach from Weston & Clevedon

























The TUC is organising a massive demonstration to Defend the NHS on Sunday 29th September at the Tory party conference in Manchester. The branch will be putting on a coach to Manchester. The coach will leave from Locking Road in Weston super Mare at 7 am, picking up at Castlewood in Clevedon at 7.20 am, and then on to Manchester. We hope to return by about 9 pm that night.

There will be no charge for UNISON members, children and unwaged, and a £10 charge for other non-members.

Please let the branch office know if you’d like to attend by phoning 01934 634759 or email: unison@nsomerset.gov.uk

Please provide us with your name, address, email, mobile phone number and numbers in  your party.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Living Wage Working Group at North Somerset Council - first meeting on 25th July 2013

The first meeting of North Somerset Council's Living Wage working group took place on 25th July 2013. North Somerset UNISON Reps attended the meeting, along with North Somerset councillors, and the Head of HR.

The working group aims to look at the costs and benefits of implementing the living wage for North Somerset Council staff and Schools staff. It will also look at the possibility of encouraging council contractors and other North Somerset employers to pay their staff the living wage.

The working group will report to the council's Community & Corporate Organisation Policy Scrutiny Panel, which will then make a recommendation to the Executive with the possibility of implementing the living wage from April 2014.

The terms of reference for the group can be downloaded here

The branch has recently been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and we received our plaque this week. Here it is:


Weston Hospital Procurement Project Website

Weston Hospital's Procurement Project has recently launched it's own website called Securing the Future: http://www.securingthefuture.net/

You can use the website to sign up for a monthly email update on the procurement project: http://www.securingthefuture.net/sign-up

You can also use the website to give your views, including telling the Hospital why you don't want a private company to run it: http://www.securingthefuture.net/send-us-your-views

You can download redacted versions of the key documents, such as the Outline Business Case and minutes of the Project Board and Stakeholder Group meetings: http://www.securingthefuture.net/key-documents/

Make sure you use the website to find out more and give your views.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Pay ‘cuts’ will hit call centre morale

Article by Samantha Pope from Weston Mercury Website

MORALE will ‘plummet’ when pay changes are brought in according to staff at a North Somerset Council call centre.

GMB and Unison unions have warned against the impact of the proposal to withdraw pay bonuses for working unsocial hours at the Care Connect facility.

The unions have suggested the £100-a-month pay cut for the workers will impact on services.

The call centre is run by an external company, Agilisys, which is looking to renew its £100million contract with the council to deliver a number of services formerly handled in-house.

The call centre staff deal with phone calls from the elderly or disabled via the Carelink system.

Carelink is installed in homes so vulnerable people can raise the alarm after a fall or accident.

Unison’s Helen Thornton said: “These staff are already low-paid, mainly female staff, who in many cases have a variety of caring responsibilities themselves.

“Agilisys want to cut their pay because to win the council contract they promised a level of savings, which were undeliverable.

“Already low staff morale will plummet further, and will impact on service delivery as highly experienced staff will leave to take jobs in organisations which value them.”

Rowena Hayward, of the GMB, said: “North Somerset Council has a responsibility to ensure that its contractors demonstrate a duty of care to their workers which this company is failing to do and the council rewards them by giving them more services to provide.

“The combined cuts which staff are being asked to bear amount to £40,000 in total. This is small change to this cash-rich company, although significant to the individuals working for them.”

Friday, 5 July 2013

NHS - 65th Birthday Party on Weston super Mare Beach

Here's a photo courtesy of Nigel Costley from today's NHS 65th Birthday bash on Weston beach.




Demonstration to Defend the NHS - 29th September

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis has called for a massive demonstration to Defend the NHS on Sunday 29th September at the Tory party conference in Manchester. North Somerset UNISON will be putting on a coach to Manchester.

Exact times to be confirmed, but it's likely that the coach will leave from Locking Road in Weston super Mare at 7 am, picking up at Castlewood in Clevedon and on to Manchester, returning that evening.

There will be no charge for members, children and unwaged, and a £10 charge for other non-members.

Please let the branch office know if you're interested by phoning 01934 634759 or email: unison@n-somerset.gov.uk

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Weston General Hospital - Put Patients before Profits




















Last night (2nd July) was the first organising meeting for the campaign to Stop Weston General Hospital being sold off to a private company and to ensure it is kept within the NHS and run by another NHS Trust.

A steering group and communications group have been set up.

Watch this space for further news on the next meeting, and new campaign website.

Celebrate the NHS's 65th Birthday at 11 am on Friday 5th July on the beach, near the pier in Weston super Mare

The Campaign to Protect Weston General Hospital - 
We believe that Patients come before Profits

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Weston Hospital Privatisation - Expressions of Interest named

11 organisations have expressed an interest in running Weston Hospital. One organisation refused to allow its name to be published citing commercial confidentiality. The organisations are:

5 Private sector companies:

Capita Group Sales
Care UK
Circle
Interserve Developments
Serco

2 Social Enterprises:

Bristol Community Health CIC
North Somerset Community Partnership CIC

3 NHS Foundation Trusts:

Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Secrecy surrounding Weston Hospital's Privatisation Project

Why is Weston Hospital being so secretive about it's procurement project, which could result in a private company taking over our local hospital?

A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) Request submitted to Weston Area Health Trust was denied. The FOI asked for the following information:

Copy of the Strategic Business Case
Minutes and Reports considered by the Project Board and the Stakeholder and Quality Assurance Group

The Trust's Response is here 

A review of their decision has been requested,

Save Weston Hospital Public Event 29th June

Today was the start of the campaign to stop our local hospital from being privatised. We had 7 speakers who came to the meeting to give their support to the campaign to Stop Weston Hospital being privatised and to talk about their fears of privatisation.

Photo (c) Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance

Mike Bell, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Weston Central said that Weston Hospital is faced with 2 unpalatable options - being take over by a private company and as a result run for profit, or being taken over by another NHS Trust. Councillor Bell does not support either option. He talked about how Weston Hospital has always been underfunded, but that there is no evidence that a private company will save money. He also described the engagement undertaken by the Trust as appalling, and that the people of Weston need to let them know that they will fight to defend their local hospital.

Donald Davies, Independent Councillor for Pill talked about why the NHS was created back in 1948 - it was to serve the people of this country, regardless of where they lived or their ability to pay. The current threat to Weston Hospital could mean that we end up with no local hospital. He went on to say that our political masters would love to give the NHS to the private sector, but the private sector would run the hospital for profit for their shareholders rather than in the interests of the people of Weston. He also emphasised that Weston is a small cog in a much larger machine. If Weston Hospital is privatised other hospitals will follow and that we're heading towards an American style insurance system, where the NHS is just a brand - just like Subway or McDonalds - run by multi-national health care companies.

Catherine Gibbons, Labour Councillor for Weston East brought a message of support from the Labour party. She talked about her own personal experience of Weston Hospital and the admiration she has for the staff working there. She also said that the recent adverse publicity and uncertainty surrounding the hospital's future is demoralising for hospital staff. She described the Coalition government's top down re-organisation of the NHS as causing a crisis in health care. She emphasised Labour's promise to repeal the Health and Social Care Act. She understands that under the current conditions it makes sense for the hospital to merge with another NHS Trust. But she cannot understand the reasons behind privatisation for Weston Hospital. She is ideologoically opposed to privatisation, but also thinks that the case for privatisation does not stack up financially - if the finances don't work with the hospital in the NHS, how will a private company be able to run it - their priority will be shareholders, not patients. Councillor Gibbons also referred to the NHS' 65th Birthday this coming week, and talked about how when the NHS was founded we were a country which had been bankrupted by war. We had the will to create the NHS then, we must have the will to keep it going. She also talked about Danny Boyle's Olympics Opening Ceremony and his tribute to the NHS. She ended by urging everyone to sign the petition to Keep Weston Hospital in the NHS.

Dr Richard Lawson, a former GP from Congresbury, former Woodspring councillor and Green Party member talked about how the Tories are obsessed with privatisation - they have an ideological belief that private is good and public is bad. But the reason for this is that many Coalition Government cabinet members have links with Healthcare Corporations. He also talked about how private companies always have to expand into other markets - U.S. Healthcare companies are looking at the UK currently. Dr Lawson said that the NHS is one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world in terms of money. But it had been made ready for privatisation for a number of years by both Tory and Labour governments. We will need to organise a hell of a campaign to stop the hospital being privatised, and it may be a good idea to lobby our local MP John Penrose. Richard gave us the vision of hundreds of Weston residents queueing outside John Penrose's surgery, and being kettled in the Conservative Association. He ended by saying that in 20 years time if we fail then do not be old, do not be sick and do not be poor.

Photo (c) UNISON South West

UNISON South West Regional Secretary Joanne Kaye talked about the NHS reaching its 65th birthday and how the Tories want to retire the NHS at 65, unlike the rest of us. She also referred to the time before the NHS was created when people worried about whether they could afford to pay for a Dr or midwife to come to see them. But that after the horrors of the Second World War the Labour government created the NHS and the welfare state so that people had security if they were sick, or lost their job. She went on to say that the budget for the NHS is billions of pounds and private companies want a slice. They are selling privatisation to us by saying it will still be the NHS and it will still be free, but this is not the case. Joanne talked about Circle Health Care, a company created by bankers, who have been given a 10 year contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. They have said they will make £311 million of savings, but will also be allowed to make a profit of £31 million. But in the first 6 months of Circle being in charge the losses at the hospital have doubled. She went on to say that NHS finances will always go up and down because people don't know when they're going to be ill or what sickness they're going to have. She referred to the fact that the NHS has been broken up since the 1990s and that we need to go back to a co-operative NHS. She ended with Nye Bevan's quote that the NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it.

Dr Gabriel Scally told the audience that he was a former Regional Director of Public Health and member of the Strategic Health Authority but resigned from the Dept of Health over the Health and Social Care bill. because he couldn't work in the NHS as it was being dismantled. He also talked about the media's role in the dismantling of the NHS particularly the BBC who did little to challenge the Health & Social Care Bill as it went through parliament. He talked about the disintegration of NHS services and that the government don't want the NHS to work. The government want it to be split up for their friends to make profits. Before the Coalition came to power the NHS had high approval ratings. The NHS is the most efficient service in the world and it provides excellent value for money. The Government have told us they're increasing funding for the NHS but that is a lie. In recent announcements they have taken £2 billion from the NHS to fund social care, because social care is in crisis - but social care is in crisis because they've cut Local Authority funding. As a result they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, and also robbing Paul. Last year the NHS surplus of £2.2 billion went back to the treasury instead of being invested in the NHS. Lack of funding is why the NHS is in crisis. The Health & Social Care Act also removed the Secretary of State for Health's responsbility for the NHS. Now Jeremy Hunt stands up in parliament and attacks GPs and hospitals. He ended by saying that the public have made is clear that they don't want to see services closed and they don't want a postcode lottery - they want to keep the National in National Health Service.

Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC spoke about Hospital campaigns in other parts of the country which have been successful. But it is a tragedy that as the NHS approaches its 65th birthday its facing its greatest crisis. If we allow privatisation we will have a service which is accountable to shareholders and not patients. David Cameron said he would cut the deficit not the NHS, but 50,000 jobs have gone in the NHS.

A number of speakers from the floor suggested the following actions:

A massive demonstration and march in Weston
Attending the demonstraton in defence of the NHS at the Tory party conference on 29th September
Getting the message out to people across North Somerset - a leafleting campaign in every village in North Somerset, contacting Parish councils and using Parish magazines
A leafleting campaign in Weston super Mare
A local referendum asking the people of Weston whether they want their hospital to be privatised
Lobbying John Penrose, MP
Lobbying the Trust Board

These actions will be discussed at the Organising meeting to be held at 7 pm on 2nd July at the Working Men's Club in Weston super Mare.

Photo (c) UNISON South West



Saturday, 22 June 2013

People's Assembly London 22nd June - Proposed Declaration and Action Plan

























The proposed declaration and action plan of the People’s Assembly

The declaration below represents the beginning of a democratic process leading towards a second People’s Assembly in early 2014. This declaration represents the views of all those who initially called for the People’s Assembly. We hope it will be endorsed by the People’s Assembly on 22nd June. It will then be open to the local People’s Assembly’s, union bodies and campaign groups who support the People’s Assembly to suggest amendments, additions, or deletions. These will then all be discussed and decided upon at the recall People’s Assembly in 2014.

The plans for action are simply the most obvious rallying points for a national anti-cuts movement for the remainder of 2013. They are not intended to supersede local or sectional action by existing campaigns or trade unions. They are intended to be focus  national, collective action by the whole anti-austerity movement.

 The People’s Assembly, meeting in Westminster Central Hall, declares:

We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.

We do not accept that government’s austerity programme is necessary. The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources. Austerity does not work: it is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth. It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.

We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on ‘golden pensions’, or of ‘scroungers’, or the ‘undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.

We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.

We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far: in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.

We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.

We have a plain and simple goal: to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.

We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.

Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.

Proposed actions:

The People’s Assembly will support every genuine movement and action taken against any and all of the cuts. We support all current industrial actions by the unions. We encourage and will help to organise the maximum solidarity action with the PCS and teaching union members taking protest and strike action the week after the People’s Assembly, as well as with other action by unions planned for the autumn.

Peoples Assemblies against the cuts should be organised in towns and cities across our nations, bringing all those fighting the cuts together into a broad democratic alliance on a local basis.

The national and the local Assemblies, in partnership with Trades Unions, Trades Councils, campaigning and community groups, can unite our movement and strengthen our campaigns. Local Assemblies will help us to organise a recalled National Assembly to review our work in the early spring of 2014.

We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government. We will continue to welcome support from all who fight the cuts.

We will call a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity on November 5th and a national demonstration in Spring 2014.

We will support the call for local demonstrations on 5th July, the 65th Birthday of our NHS and specifically, at Trafford Hospital, Manchester, the birthplace of the NHS.

We will work with the trade unions, campaign groups and others to organise and mobilise for a national demonstration at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in support of our NHS on 29th September 2013.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Weston Hospital Anti-Privatisation Campaign - Latest News

We are getting closer to the Public Event on 29th June from 10 till 2 at Weston Football Club

Speakers confirmed so far are:

Joanne Kaye, South West Regional Secretary, UNISON
Dr Gabriel Scally, University of the West of England
Dr Richard Lawson, Green Party
Mike Bell, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Weston Central
Don Davies, Independent Councillor for Pill
Catherine Gibbons, Labour Councillor for Weston super Mare East

Further details here:

Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/161032660735330/

Facebook Campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/UNISONWestonHospital

There are now going to be 2 double decker buses visiting the Public Event - The People United and the TUC's Austerity Uncovered Bus will both be there.

The NHS will be 65 on 5th July - will Weston Hospital make it to 66 in the NHS? - come to Rafters Restaurant in the Hospital between 11 am and 2 pm for some celebration cake.

Meetings for UNISON members at Weston Hospital on 8th July:

Academy - Waverley Room 12 - 1 pm 
Academy - Lecture Theatre 2.30 - 5.30 pm

Weston Labour Party have set up an online petition:
http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-privatisation-of-weston-general-hospital-weston-super-mare

Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council have set up an organising meeting on 2nd July: http://westontuc.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/weston-hospital-anti-privatisation.html

We're getting some media and blog coverage:

BBC News:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-23027354

BBC Radio Somerset - Kelvin MacDonald Fraser talks about the campaign - 1 hour, 4 minutes in:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01b3s64

Bristol Evening Post:
http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Campaign-launched-fight-hospital-sale/story-19349789-detail/story.html#axzz2Wpo9z9Gx

Pam Field has written an article for Think Left:
http://think-left.org/2013/06/21/peoples-fight-to-save-local-hospital-from-the-moneymen/

The Socialist Health Association have added info to their website:
http://www.sochealth.co.uk/events/keep-weston-general-hospital-in-the-nhs/

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Local Government Pay in 2013 and beyond - the future looks grim but we still have a world to win...

Today I've heard via Jon Rogers blog that the result of the consultative ballot of Local Government members is approximately 60% for acceptance of the 1% pay offer (in fact a 2 % pay cut), with 40% voting to reject and being prepared to take sustained industrial action. Sadly this pretty much reflects the result of the North Somerset consultative ballot.

But how different would that result have been if the consultative ballot paper had given the options for selective strike action combined with a work to rule, and odd days of all out strikes? How different would the result have been if as Jon Rogers rightly says the Local Government Service Group had recommended rejection? Obviously it's impossible to say, but I tend to agree with Jon that the result would have been very different.

But now we have a situation where the 3 year pay freeze which has resulted in the loss of 16% of our pay is followed by a year where our pay is effectively being cut by 2% because inflation is at 3%, and the prospects for future years pay settlements look grim, unless we are prepared to do something about it.

Hundreds of thousands of Local Government jobs have gone, and those staff that remain are seeing their workloads increase massively. My council will make a further 30% of cuts from 2014 to 2018 on top of the almost 30% of cuts made in the last 3 years. Local Government workers have also seen detrimental changes to their terms and conditions over the last few years. Here in North Somerset there is still (6 years on) bitterness at the loss of the Essential Car User Allowance, and not that long ago there was uproar when the council changed the Flexi / TOIL policy.

Many Local Government jobs have been outsourced. In my own branch we have had members transferred to private sector organisations, on the grounds that this will save jobs, only to see redundancies and reductions to their terms and conditions within months of the transfer. Our members at Parkwood have had enhancements reduced, and hardly any of the TUPE transferred staff remain - 2 years since the transfer. At Agilisys there have also been many redundancies, reductions to enhancements, and currently staff are being consulted on the complete removal of enhancements.

In a blog entry I wrote back in March I paraphrased the Communist Manifesto when I wrote that Local Government workers have nothing to lose but their chains by rejecting the then 1% with strings attached pay offer. I still believe that to be true and that we have a world to win if we were only prepared to do something about it.

North Somerset Youth Services Cuts - Appeal in High Court today

On 13 June 2013, Aaron Hunt will ask the Court of Appeal to reverse the earlier decision of the High Court and quash the decision of North Somerset Council to cut funding to youth centres in the area.

A three judge Court of Appeal will be asked by Mr Hunt to find the following:

That the Council did not take sufficient steps to ascertain the views of young persons before taking the decision to cut funding.

That the Council and the Court could not assume that Councillors had read critical equalities and consultation documentation when it was not in the paperwork put before them.

The Court of Appeal’s consideration of the case comes amid on-going uncertainty over the future of youth services in North Somerset as the Council’s funding reductions continue to bite. As the Council’s plans to remove centralised funding for youth clubs are realised, commissioning networks across the region are trying desperately to find alternative funding to allow youth service provision to continue into the future.

The hearing will be heard from 10:30 am in Court Room 70, Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London.

Cianan Good of Public Interest Lawyers said as follows:

“With uncertainty still surrounding the future of youth services, the Court of Appeal will be asked to consider crucial issues affecting the futures of a great many young people in North Somerset. These individuals should have been given the opportunity to consult with North Somerset Council at the time of the original decision to cut this key service. Having not been afforded that opportunity, the Court of Appeal will now be asked to quash the decision of the Council, requiring it to rethink – this time taking lawful account of the views of its young people – spending cuts to youth clubs whilst also deciding how they should be run through coming months and years.”

Monday, 10 June 2013

TUC Austerity Uncovered Bus in Weston super Mare on 29th June



COME ALONG AND TELL YOUR STORY ABOUT HOW THE CUTS ARE AFFECTING YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR COMMUNITY

SATURDAY 29th JUNE

WESTON SUPER MARE

9.30 am - 2.30 pm at Weston Football Club, Winterstoke Road, Weston super Mare, BS24 9AA

3 - 5 pm at the For All Healthy Living Centre, 68 Lonsdale Avenue, Weston super Mare, BS23 3SJ

Britain is hurting. Too many politicians have no idea just how tough life is for the many. Prices are rising while wages are held back. Service cuts are biting hard. And getting tough on cheats is used as an excuse to cut vital benefits and tax credits for millions who have played by the rules.

In June 2013, the TUC and Britain’s trade unions will be travelling across the country letting people tell their own story about life in Britain today. We are making videos, blogging what we find, and bringing journalists to report life on the front line of austerity Britain.

We are gathering the evidence to convict government policies. They are hurting, but they are not working.

Download the flyer here

More information at: http://austerityuncovered.org/

Saturday, 8 June 2013

People's Assembly 22nd June - Coach from Weston

The Peoples Assembly will take place in London on Saturday June 22nd. The Assembly will be a large gathering of trade union and political activists against austerity. Bristol and South West Unite the Resistance have organised a coach from Bristol (supported by North Somerset NUT) for those wishing to go.

Coach will pick up at 7.00 am at Weston locking rd coach station then onto Anchor rd. Bristol. It’s on Saturday 22nd of June and looks very exciting as over 2,000 people have signed up already. It’s easy to book a place www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk

Tickets for the coach are £10 waged and £7 concessions and can be obtained by emailing Anne Lemon (NUT) at annelemon198@btinternet.com

paaa_logo

Monday, 3 June 2013

TUC Campaign Bus coming to Weston super Mare on 29th June

Saturday 29th June, 10 am to 2 pm
Woodspring Stadium, Winterstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare BS24 9AA 

The TUC are coordinating two weeks of action to highlight the impact of austerity and cuts on communities up and down the country. As part of this two weeks of action the TUC are arranging a bus tour of towns and cities. The TUC bus is touring the country to capture the real stories from people living in austerity Britain and to promote the union alternative.

The TUC bus will be at the Save Weston Hospital from Privatisation event at Weston Football Club on Saturday 29th June.

The Save Weston Hospital Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/UNISONWestonHospital

Come and tell them what the impact of the cuts has been on you, your family and your community.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bristol Rally for the People's Assembly Against Austerity - 29th May

7pm on Wednesday 29th May

Malcolm X Centre, St. Pauls, Bristol BS2 8YH

Speakers include:

Owen Jones (journalist and author)
Mark Steel (comedian)
Vicki Baars (NUS vice president & People’s Assembly committee)
Paulette North (Bristol BARAC, Vice Chair Avon and Bristol Law Centre and Ujima Radio presenter)
Joanne Kaye (Unison South West Regional Secretary)
Laura Welti (Bristol Disability Equality Forum)

The event is free but you need to register at: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/6660871847?ref=ebtnebregn























Watch Owen Jones' speech here

The People's Assembly against Austerity will take place in London on 22nd June

This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. With some 80% of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. We aim to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con Dem government.

The assembly will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views which, while increasingly popular, are barely represented in parliament. A People’s Assembly can play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful coordinated action, including strike action.

The assembly will be ready to support coordinated industrial action and national demonstrations against austerity, if possible synchronising with mobilisations across Europe.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will meet at Central Hall, Westminster, on 22 June. For more information and to register visit http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/