19/09/12 Leeds Trades Council meeting ‘A Future that Works’
Representative from trade union committee
We have gone from J30 to N30 and now to O20! The impact of the 2011 ‘localism’ bill is still to be felt. Build for October 20th.
CWU youth national chair
Unemployment is higher in the north than the leafy Tory heartland. University fees also have a big impact. Jobs created in the private sector have been stolen from the public sector. The recent cabinet reshuffle has made things worse. Banks are a problem but government is the main enemy.
Divisional secretary of Wakefield NUT
Disaster of ‘free schools’, one in Bradford failed before is started. One academy charges £1 per for each 15 minutes a child is left behind at school! The scrapping of GCSEs has been mockery and disgrace and an insult to people who recently took them. Many pupils are upset and even certain head teachers are against the changes made by Gove. However there is hope, a 9 day strike in Chicago proved successful. Future NUT/NUS actions are planned.
Initially a KPMG report put 36 sites at risk of redundancy. This was followed by a sham consultation.Leaflets were poorly designed and very confusing, especially for those with learning difficulties. Initially there were 65 private bids which soon became 9 and then 4 successful bids for 3 sites. 27 factories will now closed and 3 further sites are under consideration. Recently they found out that 4 of the 9 will now be closed. A small group at Boston Spa and Pontefract closed have closed Leeds Remploy will close in November. Managers don’t want to talk to workers and “don’t care”. Management appeared to get a better pay deal and are still getting bonuses even when business is closing. The unions are taking legal advice.
Leeds Remploy now plans to set up a workers cooperative like the disabled workers co-op in York. But they can only get funding for set up not start up. They decided to pool together their redundancy money and take some of their clients with them. However several Remploy sites are been sold off cheap. In one example a factory with many ¾ made chairs will make a fortune for anyone connected to the furniture industry and who can finish the chairs for a tidy profit.
Other trade unions have sold out compared to Mark Serwotka & PCS. Yes we could have a general strike as we have had 86 years to plan it! There were 62000 less students this year, a 17% drop. This has proportionally hit more the working class and mature students. 3000 students are facing deportation after the London Met crisis. But in Quebec the students have finally won. The NUT has voted for another strike but needs a date!
The opposition from the Labour party is dire and Ed Milliband is out of touch. Labour and unions have conspired to wait till next election. But we can’t wait!
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS
A double whammy of ATOS assessments and then closing Remploy. They are using a tactic of political ‘shock and awe’, do everything at once and hope to split us. We all need to be ”under the same banner of fighting austerity.” But the children see the unemployment, the EMA cuts, the tuition fees and the mockery of their GCSEs. What will they do when older? Our welfare state is considerably less than many other countries. Yet they are asking people to relocate hundreds of miles because rents have become too high in London. The government doesn’t understand. In Merthyr Tydfil there was 1500 job seekers, yet only 39 jobs at the job centre! These communities rely disproportionately on the public sector which is been cut to the bone
In the PCS we are losing 4000 jobs every month. Proportionally the public sector has never been smaller since the 2nd world war. There will be 1.3m out of work by the end of 2013. Real pay has been cut by 20% over 4 years; increasing poverty for those who are in work. Even Mervyn King wondered why more people aren’t more angry. Our proposed pension age of 68 is the highest in the EU. Graduates will have to work till 71 and those born may now have to work till 77! People won’t be able to afford to retire. If the Tories win in the next election then there will be huge cuts to the public sector.
What can we do?
“People have to think there is an alternative or they won’t fight”. We need to give people “hope”. We currently do not have an opposition, we need an actual left rather than a centre. If the French president can propose 75% taxes then why can’t we? The PCS threatened to strike before the Olympics and this saved thousands of jobs. We also manage to get an extra 3000 people recruited to the tax office before the next general election. Mini 1-2hr walk outs with no notice are particularly damaging. “We need to be supporting campaigns in our communities… action will unite us”