We are calling on Bournemouth and Poole councils to give assurances that no social housing tenants will be evicted due to arrears accrued through the Bedroom Tax and will be holding demonstrations outside both town halls prior to full council meetings on Tuesday 18th June. Please show your support and assemble outside either Bournemouth Town Hall or Poole Civic Centre from 6pm. Thank-you
PRESS RELEASE: Sussex ‘Pop-Up Union’ to fight outsourcing
Workers at the University of Sussex have formed a new union in a bid to halt the outsourcing of 235 campus jobs. The initiative comes from rank-and-file members of the three recognised campus trade unions, with the support of students from the now six-week old Occupy Sussex movement.
Announcing the move at a mass demonstration on Monday 25th March, a spokesperson said: “The Pop-Up Union is a result management’s refusal to engage meaningfully with staff, students, and the recognised trade unions for over 10 months. We are now taking things into our own hands.”
“A recent poll found that 70% of students oppose the plans. Numerous academics have voiced their opposition, and the local MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion in the Houses of Parliament. But university management are pushing ahead with this unpopular and unnecessary proposal.”
“We are urging all Sussex staff to join the Pop-Up Union so that we can stand together against the attack on workers terms and conditions that outsourcing represents.”
Notes for editors
1. Outsourcing background. University of Sussex management proposed in May 2012 to outsource 235 campus jobs, including porters, cleaners, security and catering. The Pop-Up Union believes outsourcing will lead to erosion of workers terms and conditions and is calling for the services to remain in-house.
2. Legal background #1. Trade Unions are defined in law under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The Pop-Up Union has been formed in accordance this definition.
3. Legal background #2. The Pop-Up Union is in the process of becoming ‘listed’ with the Certification Officer, who maintains a list of all known Trade Unions.
4. Campaign info. Occupy Sussex have been in occupation of the Bramber House conference centre since 8 February 2013, and have received support from well over 300 academics, trade unions and public figures including comedian Frankie Boyle, actor Peter Capaldi, and public intellectual Noam Chomsky. Letter to Staff at the University of Sussex
5. Local MP. Local MP Caroline Lucas has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons opposing the plans, which at the time of writing had attracted 11 signatories:
6. Campus trade unions. Three trade unions are recognised by the University of Sussex – UCU, Unite, and Unison. The Pop-Up Union includes members of all three, and does not intend to replace the recognised unions, but to provide a means for workers across campus to lawfully oppose the outsourcing proposals.
7. Union fees. Dues are set at just 50p per month, making the Pop-Up affordable to every staff member on campus.
Elaine Atkinson of Poole Council was questioned about the recent Bournemouth Uncut ‘Who wants to evict a millionaire’ action during her interview on the Sunday Politics South  show her response was:
“I mean, it was awful, it was an awful attack on local democracy, because these councillors are ordinary people who are giving up their time to do a job and help to their local communities, and frankly Bournemouth Uncut I have to say they are intelligent, they are articulate, they are organised, go and get a job.”
All Bournemouth Uncut actions are held on a Saturday or bank holidays. This is because the overwhelming majority of people that organise or come to our actions are employed full time. For Atkinson to use her platform to promote the myth that all protesters are unemployed, without any evidence of the group she is subjecting to these claims is utterly shameless. This shows how little she is in touch with the local electorate. Bournemouth Uncut is open to anyone who wants to join us, our turn out has been made up of a very wide range of professions, higher education students and those in-between jobs.
Kim Elkin of Bournemouth Uncut is currently volunteering at the Soup Kitchen at St Johns Church in Parkstone, she said “We care very much about our community and the people in it. That is why we do what we do. We don’t just protest against the cuts, we go out and help the people directly affected by them as well. Bournemouth Uncut is a fun, creative and family friendly way to engage with the public, and it shows people that there are alternatives to austerity. It doesn’t have to be this way. The bankers that got us into this mess are receiving tax breaks, and avoiding tax, while the poor are suffering for the mistakes of the rich.”
Atkinson claimed “councillors are ordinary people who are giving up their time to do a job and help to their communities“ In reality Elaine picked up £32,095 in the period 1st April 2011 – 31st March 2012 for giving up her time to Poole Council. She is in fact the highest paid councillor in Poole. Bournemouth Uncut will continue to do their day jobs and help their communities for free in addition to taking creative direct action in their spare time.
589 households in Bournemouth affected by bedroom tax and 635 households affected in Poole. That’s 1224 vulnerable social housing households affected. How many of these households will be able to move to a house with the correct amount of bedrooms? How many will find that the houses just aren’t available and have to pay the tax? How many will be pushed into more expensive rented homes, wasting more tax payer money? Do you know Elaine? We would love to know the figures. So far we have seen no guarantee given by Bournemouth or Poole borough councils to its social tenants that they will not be evicted if they fall behind on rent arrears because of the ‘bedroom tax’. Other councils in the country have given such assurances, but neither Bournemouth nor Poole borough councils have.
When the traditional routes of engagement with MP’s and councilors has been exhausted, and people’s concerns and issues have not been adequately dealt with, then yes, people turn to protest and direct action to get their voices heard, it is a healthy part of living in a democracy. To say that it was an attack on local democracy is ironic to say the very least.
Bournemouth Uncut is part of UK Uncut a grassroots movement using creative direct action to fight the cuts and highlight alternatives to austerity.
For more information and interviews:
Call 07596 388 848
On 1st April the government introduced the bedroom tax, making 670,00 people worse off for having a spare room, even if it’s for a disabled partner or child, or foster children to sleep in at the same time as giving 13,000 millionaires a tax cut . In reaction to this and in response to a national call-out from UK Uncut, Bournemouth Uncut took our creative civil disobedience straight to the people who are directly pushing and benefiting from these cuts.
Bournemouth Uncut is a local group part of UK Uncut, a grassroots movement using direct action to fight the cuts and highlight alternatives to austerity. On Saturday 13th April 2013 a group of activists took action as part of UK Uncut’s nationwide “Who wants to evict a millionaire” that saw actions round the country, including London, Manchester and Chelmsford against the governments changes to housing benefit dubbed the “bedroom tax”.
We are disappointed at Cllr Mike White’s decision to brand our actions sick, and feel that what this government of millionaires is doing to single-mothers, disabled people and low-earners up and down the country is what is actually sick.
In reaction to Poole MP Robert Syms statement to Bournemouth Echo where he claimed direct action would make him and his government “more determined to make sure [they] make fairer policy in terms of housing”  Bournemouth Uncut say that they will continue to work with other direct action groups locally and nationally until the “bedroom tax” is added to the ever growing number of coalition u-turns .
For more information and interviews:
Call 07596 388 848
Reblogged from Diary of a Benefit Scrounger - Sue Marsh.
Welfare reform. Much needed shake up of a system out of control or cruel and ignorant attack of some of the most vulnerable people in society? Most have an opinion.
Many like me, were fighting the welfare reform bill way back in 2011. We know every last detail, every twist and turn, every sweeping change and every technical detail. Believe me, it’s cruel.
On the whole, I think the cruelty is in the details. Oh, not the headline grabbing Benefit Cap or Universal Credit. They’re largely PR stunts that won’t save any money at all. Universal Credit could have been rather clever if only ministers had understood the details. If only they’d really understood the people they were legislating for. Their lives, the difficulties they face, the traps in the system, the precarious fear of a life on the margins of society.
One of the most sickening details of all still grates with me almost daily. It was so cruel sounnecessary. It overturned decades of cross-party consensus and decency. It picked on a group so vulnerable it takes my breath away. And it stripped that group of basic rights despite ministers not actually understanding the policy at all. How cavalier can you be? How arrogant and out-of-touch?
It was called the “Youth Premium” It only related to children who were born so profoundly disabled that they would never work as adults. Forget your Work Capability Assessments and your Scroungers, these children would never take part in society like you or I. Many would never talk, self feed, walk, play, laugh, fall in love. But they could still lead independent lives. Because we were a society that believed they should have a right to if they chose to.
The Youth Premium treated these children as though they had paid National Insurance. For a cost of just 11 million pounds, on becoming adults, these children were treated as though they had “contributed” through work and because of that, they were entitled to contributory benefits, they did not have to be means tested.
Such a simple thing, but what did it mean in practise? What did it mean to the people behind the numbers? The lives being toyed with? It meant they were entitled to live independently if they chose to. They were entitled to benefits in their own name, not as a means tested part of their family. Often, such profoundly disabled children had considerable compensation to see them through lives damaged beyond recognition by accidents. This compensation was just that. Money for an expensive future of care, adaptations to homes, aids to independence. For a lifetime, this money would have to pay for support just to make their lives as manageable as society could achieve.
No more. Any money would be part of the means test. They would have to run down reserves of cash or savings before the state would step in. Compensation is not income. Nor should it be. From the passing of the welfare bill, any security or savings put aside by families terrified what life would hold once parents or siblings had passed, would have to slowly seep away, leaving insecurity and hunger a shadow away before these few profoundly disabled neighbours and daughters and brothers could rely on any help or support from the state.
Our elite cabinet talked of how “unfair” it would be if “these people” “inherited” money but were still entitled to support from our social security system. No, they would simply have a little security to underpin the often modest state income someone with profound disabilities might expect. And how many of us can rely on generous inheritances anyway? Is that real life? A likely scenario? Of course not.
You might be wondering why I bring all this up again today. The law passed (you can see me pointing out to Chris Grayling why he didn’t understand his own policy on Newsnight, here :
Well, it’s that 11 million pounds. £11 million. In Westminster terms it would barely pay for the DWP’s paperclips. It is a drop in the ocean of a welfare budget spanning 10s of billions. It only applied to a few thousand of the most disabled children in society (children just like Ivan Cameron, had he lived into adulthood.) But Lord Freud, failed investment banker and Minister for Welfare Reform, insisted that we could “no longer afford it” We could no longer afford to allow such profoundly disabled children lives of dignity and independence. No more security. No relief for worried families that they would be safe once they were gone. A cross-party consensus of decades, stripped away by ministers who didn’t even know what they were doing.
This week, William Hague assures us we can afford £10 million for a ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher. Opinion polls show the public don’t want it, commentators from left and right are mystified, yet 2,200 people have been invited to a decadent funeral for a divisive PM who lies at the heart of many of the problems facing our society today. When I scanned the invitees yesterday, it felt surreal. A mish-mash of variety club has-beens, world leaders she shunned and elite aristocrats who shunned her when alive.
10 million for a dead PM, nothing for those living with some of the greatest barriers to society any of us will ever face. I actually feel a bit sick writing it down.
But perhaps, this is the most fitting legacy of all for a PM who assured us “there is no such thing as society”
Perhaps as she burns or rots (we will all do one or the other) every profoundly disabled life lived in chains of dependence because today’s government didn’t understand the details will haunt her. Perhaps she will see images of each and every one playing like a movie to her soul, wherever it ends up.
I hope so. Those children needed that £11 million. She doesn’t.
A group of us travelled up to London to attend the ‘thatcher’s dead’ party called by Class War about a decade ago. During the day we divided ourselves between UK Uncut’s ‘bedroom tax’ action at Lord Fraud’s house and North London SolFed’s workfare pickets in Wood Green.
The workfare pickets continued both SolFed’s campaign against Poundland and supported Bristol AFed’s new initiative against Homebase; we were able to have some interesting conversations with staff and customers. The area is stricken by the government’s austerity programme with the crappiest jobs imaginable drawing hundreds of applicants. People here are in absolutely no doubt what is being done to them, why, and by whom. Homebase pickets were simultaneously conducted in Bristol and Bath.
Meanwhile in Bournemouth: Bournemouth Uncut took on the Tory MP’s and councillors of Bournemouth and Poole this weekend for their “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” action. Their homes were dressed as crime scenes with yellow markers, crime scene tape, evidence bags with ‘blood’ soaked cotton buds, and some lovely eviction notices. Some of the lucky recipients of our crime scenes were Robert Syms MP, John Beesley of Bournemouth Council, and other usual suspects like May Haines, Carol Evans, Ann Stibley, Mike White and Peter Pawlowski. At a time that people are facing losing their homes due to the bedroom tax, we thought it high time those architects of misery felt (for a few seconds) what it would be like to face eviction from their own homes. Very nice homes indeed…with plenty of spare bedrooms.
On to Trafalgar square, a picture circulated on twitter showing the square fenced off and surrounded by police proved to be bogus, trying to put us off? Not a hope, even the rain couldn’t do that, the vibe was joyful and good-natured, and solidarity was palpable. During the course of the evening a steady 3000 revellers divided their time between the square and surrounding pubs. A few incidents of police misbehaviour were swiftly and efficiently dealt with by the crowd, who had to clear them all out of the way from time to time; similarly, a smattering of fascists showed up to spoil the fun and got battered for their trouble. It’s worth pointing out that we can do this perfectly well without the ‘vanguard’ of press photographers that hurl themselves into the fray at the first hint of bother.
Of course this was not just about celebrating the death from natural causes of some demented old fascist (what was her name again?) who was admired in some circles for doggedly sticking to her principles of greed, self-interest and disdain for anyone who didn’t share her precise ethnic origins and social prejudices. Many present had their own lives blighted by the Dead Thing and had good reason to gloat; but far more importantly this was a positive affirmation of our determination to bury her mean-spirited ideology with her.
We, the working class will do this, we have no faith whatsoever in political or industrial representation, our future is in our hands, as the hangovers fade, let’s get organised!
Bristol’s Budget Day – Tuesday 26th February – an appeal from Bristol And District Anti Cuts Alliance (BADACA)
Please support and publicise these events via any networks you have available. We need you and all your friends there.
Tuesday 26th February – From 1pm – Lobby Bristol City Council
This is the full meeting of Bristol City Council where a vote will be taken on George Ferguson’s budget - £35 million of cuts and 330 jobs lost. Despite the inconvenient timing we need to get as many people as possible to a lobby from 1pm outside the Council House and as many people as possible in the public gallery for the meeting. We have written to all councillors calling on them to speak out against the budget. A large and vocal lobby and a packed gallery may encourage them to do this. Please come if you can an publicise among others – even if you can only get there for a short time in your lunch hour it will help. Bring banners, flags, placards etc. Facebook event.
Tuesday 26th February – from 5.30pm – Lobby the Institute Of Directors
In previous years the council’s budget meeting has gone long into the evening. This year, George Ferguson is attending an IOD event at 6pm – meeting his big-business friends. This means that either the council meeting will be guillotined or will continue without him – meaning he won’t have to hear what councillors think of his budget. BADACA is organising aprotest outside the M Shed Museum where the IOD event is taking place. Please join us there from 5.30pm. Bring banners, flags, placards etc. A flyer/poster for this can be downloaded from our website.