Friday, 20 April 2012

10 May strike can boost fight against pensions robbery

by Julie Sherry

Some 100,000 health workers in the Unite union will strike to defend pensions on 10 May and 290,000 civil service workers in the PCS union will join them. The Tories want to force millions of public sector workers to work longer, pay more into their pensions and get less when they retire. They made much of the “heads of agreement”—the so-called “final offer” on pensions negotiations—at the end of last year. But the government is refusing to budge on these three key attacks. Many workers are disappointed that union leaders haven’t called a national strike in the dispute since 30 November last year. But the mood is still there to fight—and 10 May is a chance to regain the momentum.

The PCS union’s national executive committee met on Tuesday of this week. It unanimously decided to join the strike on 10 May and to strike again in June. This opens the possibility of two mass public sector strikes in quick succession. Nipsa, Northern Ireland’s public sector workers’ union, could join the strike too. The UCU lecturers’ union has decided to strike alongside any other union that takes national action. Its national executive committee is set to meet later this month. And teachers in the NUT union are fighting to join the 10 May strike on a regional basis. This means that up to half a million workers could strike together. People want to keep fighting. But they also want a strategy to win.

The planned strike on 10 May could also boost health workers in Unison. They are currently voting on whether to accept the government’s heads of agreement, or reject it and back more strikes. Health workers in the GMB union are waiting for a promised consultation on the heads of agreement. Health workers in Unison in Scotland are continuing rolling strikes over pensions. Workers in the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing have rejected the deal.

The government has already imposed increased pension contributions on workers. Workers in every union should take the chance to be part of the action. This fight is a beacon for everyone facing the Tories’ assault. Cameron and his cronies are embattled by scandal and crisis, they dread more strikes. They are vulnerable and mass action can stop them.
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Monday, 16 April 2012

Join the campaign to save the Remploy factory in Penzance

Campaigners from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance were out in force on Saturday at the bottom of Causeway Head in Penzance collecting signatures on a petition to stop the closure of Remploy factories, including the one in Longrock near Penzance.


Remploy is the largest and the oldest employer of disabled people in Britain. It is not only a workplace but a way of life for thousands of disabled people who want sustainable employment of their choice. Employees now face the threat of closure with little prospect of a job elsewhere.

Shoppers were angry at the way people with disabilities are being targeted by the Tory-led government, not only losing their jobs through the planned closure of Remploy, but also losing benefits as a result of the Welfare Reform Act. Around 400 people signed the petition in less than two hours, about the same amount that had signed it the previous week.

The petitioners were joined by Colin Grey, the GMB trade union rep. at the Longrock Remploy factory. Colin said: “Remploy in employing us, gives us dignity, a living wage, a reason to get up in the morning, support not only at work but in our personal lives, and most of all, a life. We have for many years worked for a living and not stayed at home on benefits as most, if not all, could have.

“To take Remploy away would subject many, many hundreds to live on benefits and never work again, and to languish in poverty and despair. I urge all to do what they can to stop this government making a huge mistake in destroying Remploy, because when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

The Golowan Band were also at the bottom of Causeway Head on Saturday, raising money and looking for volunteers for this year’s Golowan Festival. Many of the band members signed the petition and the band agreed to support the campaign. Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance deplores the cut in funding they are facing with all funding from Penwith Town Council being withdrawn from next year. A spokesperson said “This is a community event. It brings cheer and revenue into the town. We need to keep the spirit of Golowan alive.”

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance have organised a public meeting on the issue of the planned closure of the Remploy factories on Tuesday 1 May at 7pm. It is to be held at the Lugger Hotel on the Promenade in Penzance. Colin Grey and the regional GMB rep. will speak and representatives of Disability Cornwall and Cornwall Disabled People Against the Cuts are expected to speak. Everyone is welcome to come along and have their say.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Stop the closure of the Remploy factory in Longrock, Penzance

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance are currently campaigning against the government’s proposed closure of the Remploy factory in Longrock near Penzance, Cornwall. Around 400 people signed a petition in two hours on Saturday 7 April. Campaigners will also be out each Saturday for the next few weeks from 11am at the bottom on Causeway Head in Penzance.

This blog first mentioned this threat back in August last year (see here). Now this threat is becoming a reality.

Colin Grey GMB rep at the factory has said:
“The people who work in Remploy are not institutionalised; they lead perfectly normal lives in and out of Remploy. We are not segregated, we are immersed in the local community and work in a place that has meaningful employment, no different than any other, apart from that it employs a greater proportion of people with a disability.

“Remploy is not only a place of work it is a support network not only for those that work here but for the wider community. It gives meaningful employment to those that would find it impossible to work in mainstream employment. We are, for the want of a better word, a family that cares for each other in far more areas than any mainstream employer would be able to.

“Remploy in employing us gives us dignity, a living wage, a reason to get up in the morning, support not only at work but in our personal lives, and most of all, a life. We have for many years worked for a living and not stayed at home on benefits as most, if not all, could have.

“To take Remploy away in my opinion would be the real segregation subjecting many, many hundreds to live on benefits and never work again, and to languish in poverty and despair. I urge all to do what they can to stop this government making a huge mistake in destroying Remploy, because when it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The workers, the GMB trade union, Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance, other local disability organisation and individuals are looking to hold a public meeting in the near future to discuss the next steps in the campaign.

For more information or to get involved in the campaign, see here. The next meeting of Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance will be held at 7pm on Monday 16 April at the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street, Penzance.