Category: Fighting Cuts
This story by Dave Himelfield originally appeared in the Huddersfield Examiner.
Plan would lead to closure of two libraries and no funding for 14 of remaining 24
A controversial plan to cut library services in Kirklees has been delayed after a scrutiny panel referred it back to councillors.
Kirklees Council cabinet members plan to shrink the council’s libraries’ budget from £5.7m to £3.9m.
But the proposal, which would see the closure of two libraries and the end of funding for 14 of the remaining 24, was called before a scrutiny panel.
Now the Labour cabinet has hit another snag after the panel referred the plan, which could lead to 100 redundancies, back to members.
The panel said the cabinet’s proposal failed to supply financial information or evidence as to why certain libraries would be reducing their hours more than others.
Panel chair Clr Julie Stewart-Turner said: “The committee do not feel that the evidence provided makes its clear enough to the stakeholders and wider public about how the hours have been allocated.”
The cabinet was also asked to clarify its categorisation of libraries.
Libraries had been split between ‘community supported libraries’ and ‘town libraries’, affecting what support they would be given by the council.
Clr Andrew Pinnock, one of eight Lib Dems who called the plan in, said the panel had made a fair decision.
He said: “It’s got to be clear for people reading it and it wasn’t.”
But Kirklees cabinet member for resources Graham Turner defended his cabinet’s decision.
Clr Turner said closing two libraries was a ‘real achievement’ considering the Government had slashed his council’s budget.
“I don’t want to close libraries,” he said. “I would love to enhance our libraries.
“I would love to enhance our services but we have budget restrictions from national government. We have had a huge restriction in our budget.”
The Labour member for Denby Dale added: “Closing two libraries – that’s sad. But I would challenge you to find someone who has done so much for so little.
“To close two libraries in this time of austerity is a real achievement.”
It is hoped that libraries, which will remain open but cease to receive council cash, will be run by volunteer groups.
But ‘keen library goer’ Martin Jones warned the panel of the dangers of leaving community assets to their communities.
He said: “After the initial enthusiasm there is a repeated turnover of volunteers and the need for constant recruitment and training. I don’t feel that has been addressed.”
One protestor at the meeting accused Kirklees cabinet of failing to consider relevant factors while another accused it of making unnecessary, ideological cuts.
But members of newly-formed library volunteer groups were positive about the future of community-run libraries.
Jenny Tomlinson Walsh, from Friends of Mirfield Library, said: “We’ve made good progress and have good expectations for the future of Mirfield Library.
“Though we regret the loss of hours we understand the financial pressures behind this.”
Campaigners against the cuts used a giant inflatable lion in a demonstration outside the town hall.
As the lion was inflated, some of the protesters recited words from Shelley’s epic poem Masque of Anarchy which ends with the words: “Arise like lions from your slumber, In unvanquishable number, Shake to earth your chains like dew, Which in sleep had fallen on you, Ye are many – they are few.”
The protest was organised by Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford branch of union Unite Community.
Among the protesters was 10-year-old Ava-Maria Dlallo from Salendine Nook, who said: “I’m here because we don’t want the libraries to close. It’s horrible what they’re doing. Everyone likes libraries but they’re closing them down.”
Inside the council chamber protesters handed in a 2,100-signature petition opposing library closures.
Unite Community spokesman Chris Strachan told councillors: “In the Second World War the number of libraries in our communities was increased. If it could be afforded then, why can’t we keep our libraries going now in one of the richest countries in the world? The cuts are not necessary.”
The Labour-controlled council says government cuts are forcing it to make “hard decisions” and that councillors are working to keep open as many libraries as possible.
More on this story: HuddsLibraries
As you know, Barnsley Central 38 Degrees is trying to develop a public campaign against the privatisation and cutting of children’s health services.
We have started a petition, written to all Barnsley Councillors and MPs, sent out a press release and will have a leaflet out in the next few days. The petition has nearly 100 signatures on-line and we collected about 300 on paper last weekend at a stall in Barnsley and on the coaches to the demo against the Tories in Manchester. You can view the petition on-line at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-privatisation-of-barnsley-children-s-services
Copies of the email we sent to Councillors and MPs and the leaflet we will be bringing out next week are attached.
We would like to ask the unions to do whatever they can to make the campaign as big as possible. Could you circulate the link for the on-line petition to all your members and encourage them to sign and get others to sign? It would be great also if you could publicise the stall that we will be having in Barnsley this Saturday,10th October. We will be on May Day Green petitioning from 10.30 to about 1pm. All are welcome to attend and join in. We will bring a megaphone.
Beyond that, we are open to suggestions. Possible ideas are a public meeting, a march around Barnsley and a lobby of the Council. We are open to suggestions, but definitely want to take things forward on a joint basis with the unions and the staff. We think the recent experience with the children’s centres shows that we will not get Barnsley Council to think again unless we mount a really bid, determined campaign.
Trade Unionists, Community Groups and Activists Plan wave of Protest against Zero Hours September 9th! Get Involved! Direct Action Gets the Goods!
Get Involved! Email Your Unite Community Coordinator for more info!
Direct Action Gets The Goods! See our Win against Pizza Express here:
Guardian Article on Unites Pay Claim
Pressure Mounts on Sports Direct Chairman
Previous Action From Unite Community Pictures Below
Sticker Campaign against the Rip off Sports Direct!
Busy day at the office yesterday, 15 ESOL learners in our class today, Richard Vivian gave a lengthy interview with Channel4 about the cruel and unnecessary welfare Reform and the devastating effects on our community’s, and on top of all that we had our fantastic colleagues from Unite Community Stoke on Trent visit us with David Condliffe! All in all a very good and productive day!
AUGUST Action Update
Lots Going on right across our Region! come along get involved! get active!
Unite Community NE, Yorkshire & Humberside
Dear Community Member,
In the three months since the Election of the Conservative Government we have seen an escalation of the attacks on worker’s rights and on the poor and vulnerable in our communities. As Unite Community Members many of you are at the forefront of resistance to this government and its attacks on our communities. As you know, Community branches across our region are working tirelessly to stand up for public services, fight welfare sanctions and support communities and workers who are under attack from the Tories.
Listed below are just some of the campaigns and events which we are organising over the coming weeks and months. It is by no means exhaustive and new events are being organised every week. Our blogs and facebook pages are constantly updated and carry updates on all our events and campaigns.
TORY PARTY CONFERENCE
Many members have contacted us enquiring about travel provision for the demonstration outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on October 4th. Unite NEYH will be providing transportation to and from the demonstration for all our members and places will be available to book via the Unite website. Unite Community are hoping to have a strong presence at the demonstration as we did at the People’s Assembly march in London and the Durham Miners Gala. More detailed information will follow as buses and schedules are confirmed.
* PIZZA EXPRESS – Unite Community members across the UK have been supporting1 Unite members in the hospitality industry in their struggle for better terms and conditions. As you may have seen recently our campaign in support of Pizza Express workers was featured in the National media. Unite are running a campaign to stop Pizza Express stealing their workers tips. Workers in this sector have to survive on very low rates of pay and often rely on their tips to make ends meet. Community branches will be helping to recruit Pizza Express workers to the Union and supporting them through pickets and demonstrations outside restaurants. This is a well organised nationwide campaign and we would encourage as many Community members as possible to get involved.
* SPORTS DIRECT – An article in today’s Guardian newspaper reports that 25% of job seekers are being pushed into Z hour contract positions. One of the worst offenders in the abuse of casualised workers is Sports Direct. Unite Community will be holding a nationwide Day of Action against billionaire Mike Ashley and his Victorian employment practices. This will be timed to coincide with the Sports Direct AGM on the 9th September. Unite Community NEYH are hoping to co-ordinate events in all the towns and cities in our region.
* FRESHERS WEEKS – We have so far arranged a number of events for the upcoming Freshers Weeks. Events are confirmed for Sheffield University, Sunderland University, Leeds and Keighley Colleges amongst others. With the continuing attacks on student financial provision and on further education funding it is imperative that we recruit and organise amongst students in further and higher education. We are hoping that every branch can organise a Freshers recruitment event in the Universities and Colleges in their area. I have ordered a new gazebo for the North East of the region and am producing student specific leaflets for these events.
For information on how to get involved in the Pizza Express, Sports Direct campaigns or how to help recruitment at Freshers events please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
DURHAM & SUNDERLAND
First of all I’d like to thank the Durham comrades for the fantastic welcome they gave members from across the region at this year’s Unite Political School and the Miner’s Gala. I know that our members from Yorkshire and the East Midlands who came to the Big Meeting this year enjoyed themselves immensely and that there will be even more of us making the journey up the A1 next year!
Our members in Durham are cementing the great relationship we have with the Durham Miners Association and the local community by organising outreach work around social security rights and the fight back back against benefit sanctions in communities across Co Durham. The first training days in this programme take place on Wednesday 30th September and Thursday 1st October at Redhills, Durham. The second part of the course takes place across two days on the 7th & 8th at the same venue. A half day course on Benefit Sanctions and how to combat them is in the process of being booked. All the training is being led by professional Benefits Rights advisers from Durham County Council. We urge all our members in the NE who are interested to join us over these two weeks. If you are interested, please contact me directly and I will pass on your details to the team at Durham.
As well as the fantastic ongoing work taking pace at Durham, recent months have witnessed the emergence of the beginnings of a new branch in Sunderland. Our Dynamic Duo of Kathrine and Dave have been joining scores of new members, been running street stalls and have even found time to set up a clothes bank in Penshaw! We will be leafleting across Sunderland and running street stalls in the run up to a public meeting in the city, after which we will constitute an official Unite Community branch there.
Unite Community will also be in attendance at the Easington Heritage Day on the 12th September in the Welfare Park, Easington, Co Durham. The event is a celebration of the town’s industrial and political heritage and will feature a mix of music, arts and politics. Unite Community will be marching with our various banners and running a stall, transport ds being organised from across the region so get in touch if you’d like to join us for what looks being an excellent day out.
In other good news from the North East, we note that far right extremists from the EDL have cancelled a planned march through Shotton Colliery on 5TH September. Nice to see the far right being pushed back in our region, let’s hope it continues.
A nicer event altogether is taking place in Easington, Co Durham on Saturday, 12th September. As part of the National Heritage Open Day programme, Easington Colliery Heritage Group would like you to enjoy a day of celebration, reflecting on our past and highlighting our future.
This FREE ENTRANCE family event will begin with a musical parade from our former pit site, then follow with arts/crafts for children, rides, live music and guest speakers, poetry, film and photography, bar, local food and much more! Unite Community will be there, marching with our banners and running a stall. We will be organising transport from other parts of the region for any members wishing to attend. 
LEEDS / YORK
Over recent months the number of members living in and around York has seen steady growth. This is mainly due to the hard work put in by various members of the Leeds branch who have recruited scores of new members in and around the city at a variety of events. Until now members in York and much of North Yorkshire have been included in the Leeds City Branch but as their numbers have grown it has become apparent that we need to constitute York as its own branch.
We will be contacting all members in the York area this week to ask for volunteers to sit on the branch committee. Full training is given to all branch officials and the Leeds branch committee will be on hand to assist with the setting up of the new branch. Again, please contact me via e-mail if you would be interested in taking up one of the positions.
LEEDS CITY COLLEGE: Leeds members will be running a stall this Thursday, 27th August, at the Leeds City College Fresher’s` event. This event is being organised in conjunction with the Students Union there. We expect the event to be packed out and it should be a good opportunity to recruit members and engage with the students about the great work Unite Community is engaged in. Again, please get in touch if you would like to help out.
Unite Community are planning to hold a recruitment stall at the Jeremy Corbyn event on Saturday 29th at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. We had stalls at the hugely successful events in Middlesbrough and Newcastle last week and signed up several new members. If anyone is available to help out in Sheffield please get in touch.
Unite Community members have been helping out with industrial recruitment in recent months and we are hoping to continue this at a range of sites across South Yorkshire. Officers are currently running recruitment drives at ASOS in Grimethorpe and IPL in Normanton. If any members have an hour or two to help out with this it would be very useful indeed.
Please contact Richard.Bedford@unitetheunion.org if you can assist at ASOS, Grimethorpe or speak to Sarah.Mitchell@unitetheunion.org if you can help out at IPL, Normanton. Travel from Leeds, Barnsley or Sheffield will be arranged for any members living there.
As well as running the hugely successful Community Support Centre in Barnsley, a number of our comrades there also find time to help out at the local Drop In club which feeds Barnsley’s homeless three times a week. The work the people do there is a lifeline to some of the area’s most vulnerable people. Unfortunately, as with many other projects, they really need more people to assist them. Anyone in the area interested in helping out should contact Peter, the project organiser on 01226 247652 or 0752 846 8327.
As many of you will have heard our Community branch at Botton Village, North Yorkshire have won significant concessions from the charity managing the village and have retained “shared living” there for the time being. The Co-workers at Botton have been supported by the wider Unite membership and Officers and staff throughout the union. They are undergoing media and campaign training and establishing a very active branch up in North Yorkshire. As we have discussed with several branches over recent months I am currently organising a visit to our newest branch for members from other branches. As with all other events listed above, please contact me directly and to express your interest. Once we have an idea of numbers, I will make firm travel plans. 
TRAINING & UNITE IN SCHOOLS
As we prepare to start a new academic year I am beginning the task of contacting FE Colleges and schools across our region as part of Unite’s “Unite in Schools” project. This project aims to take educate the next generation of workers about the benefits of Trade Union membership and explain the positive role unions play in civil society. We are currently organising training for members to deliver the Unite in Schools programme and would encourage any members who are interested in taking part to get in touch.
In addition to our Schools project we are also providing a wide range of training to our members. A full list of the courses available is detailed in the attached document.
So, it looks like being a busy couple of months coming up for all our Community branches. I look forward to working with you all in the coming weeks and months and to forging ever more successful campaigns across our region.
Yours in solidarity
John Coan – Unite Community Coordinator NE,Y&H region.
United Left is the left shop stewards network in UNITE the Union
United Left Statement on Support for Corbyn
The progressive left network in UNITE the Union
UNITED LEFT backs JEREMY CORBYN
for Labour Leader
United Left, the highly influential left network of shop stewards and activists in UNITE The Union*, urges all trade unionists, their families and friends to participate in the forthcoming ballot for Labour Leader and cast their vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
|Union members who are not Labour Party members can have a vote if they become “affiliated supporters”, if – like UNITE – they are members of a trade union affiliated to the Labour Party. Contact your shop steward or full time officer, go on your union’s website or use the Unions Together website http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/our_party_our_voice
Members of unions not affiliated to the Labour Party, and family members and friends who are not in a union can have a vote by becoming a “registered supporter” for £3. This can be done online using the Labour Party website http://www.labour.org.uk/w/labour-party-supporters
In both cases, you will need to sign a declaration that you support Labour values and are not in a political party opposed to the Labour Party. Registration closes 12th Aug
We urge a vote for Jeremy Corbyn because he is the only candidate who stands for a return of the Labour Party to working class values; for an end to austerity; for trade union rights; for an economy that works for ordinary people; for fairness and justice; for peace and international solidarity.
We reject the criticism that a vote for Jeremy as Leader will alienate the voters and cast Labour into the wilderness for decades. On the contrary, there is huge support in the country for a return to a genuine centre-left agenda. The massive surge of interest and support for Jeremy’s campaign is witness to that. By contrast the other contenders have run uninspiring campaigns with no new policies except a lurch back to the right. A return to the policies of New Labour will be disastrous for Labour’s chances in the 2020 election.
People are fed up with thirty years of right wing neo-liberal politics which have seen:
- Working class living standards decline in real terms, so that today there are 5M jobs on minimum wage, 4.5M in bogus self-employment and countless numbers on zero hours contracts
- Trade unions and collective bargaining marginalised and attacked. Only Jeremy Corbyn understands the need for Labour to embrace trade unions and stand up for our rights in a free and democratic society
- Public services privatised including the Post Office, utilities and public transport, and now our NHS! Opinion polls have consistently shown majority support for a return to public ownership.
- A housing crisis that puts a decent home out of reach for working class families. Council houses have been sold off and private rents are sky high
- A welfare state all but dismantled, pushing millions into real poverty and reliance on food banks here in one of the richest countries in the world
- A massive increase in the gap between rich and poor unequalled anywhere else in Europe, with a seemingly never ending programme of tax cuts for the rich and big business
- Pensions attacked and a culture of “work till you drop” with millions facing poverty and deprivation in old age
- A deregulated labour market that permits employers to exploit low cost foreign workers in place of workers who live here, fuelling racism, fascism and Islamophobia.
People are fed up with a Labour Party which has no answers to the above. We don’t want a Labour Party that supports “austerity-lite”; that can’t even vote against Tory welfare cuts; that supports yet further pay restraint for public sector workers; that has no answers to the housing crisis affecting working class households across the country; that is embarrassed by its trade union connections and won’t reverse anti-union laws.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who says there is an alternative to austerity.
Austerity means massive spending cuts on vital public services and welfare, making the poorest in our society pay for a crisis not of our making. But this depresses the economy, reducing tax receipts and increasing public spending on poverty and unemployment. Instead we should be investing in our economy, getting businesses working again and creating jobs. This would generate tax receipts and reduce spending on welfare – and reduce the deficit.
We CAN reclaim the missing tax billions (estimated to exceed £100B a year in taxes evaded or avoided by big business and wealthy individuals, or simply uncollected by an under-resourced Inland Revenue ravaged by senseless public sector job cuts).
We CAN create a public investment bank to invest in our infrastructure, new council homes, public transport, renewable energy, insulation and much more, using the public sector as the motor for recovery.
We CAN create decent well- paid jobs and place orders with private sector businesses which will generate tax receipts for the Treasury and reduce public spending on welfare benefits as we raise people out of poverty.
We CAN offer a vision of hope for working people under a Labour Government, but it’s good for business too. Indeed it’s a much surer way of paying off the deficit than the destructive and divisive right wing policy of austerity.
There is a brighter future under Labour. Vote for Jeremy Corbyn!
Note for Editors:
United Left is an informal network of shop stewards and lay activists, but also includes full time officials. It is the largest broad left organisation in any union in the country. It campaigns for a strong fighting back trade union delivering for its members and for a left voice on political issues that affect working class people. It leads and influences the debate over policy within and without the union. United Left also supports candidates in union elections including for General Secretary and for the UNITE Executive Council (46 of the 63 members are United Left supporters).
Jeremy Corbyn addressed the United Left national supporters meeting in Manchester on Saturday 25th July.
For comment please contact Martin Mayer United Left Chair email email@example.com
300 black (environmentally friendly) balloons will be released at 12.30pm (prompt) to symbolise the 300 jobs lost in Barnsley Council last year.
Please come along and support the event but please will you also promote the event by distributing the attached flyer amongst your networks and by encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.
Download the flyer: July 8th demo
Barnsley Town Hall at 12:15pm – 1:15pm
David Cameron graced Barnsley with his presence on Saturday. OK, it wasn’t the real David Cameron, who probably wouldn’t be seen within miles of a town like Barnsley. However, the boos that just a protester in a mask attracted gave a clue to the kind of reception that the real Cameron would attract, if he ever dared to set foot in the town that his beloved predecessor Margaret Thatcher tore the heart from.
It is fair to say that Barnsley has suffered disproportionately from Tory cuts over the last thirty years. Pit closures hang like a pall over the town and now that Barnsley’s current biggest employer, the public services sector is facing further cuts, the future doesn’t look like it is going to get brighter any time soon.
The protest, organised by TUSC, drew together people from a range of groups. The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders (a group formed to campaign for the reinstatement of free public transport for pensioners) were there, as were the Barnsley Green Party, campaigners to save their local Sure Start – Worsbrough Common Rising Stars (sign the petition here), the Socialist Workers Party, NHS employees and a range of trade unions.
Although Saturday’s protest was modest in numbers, it points to the way ahead. We need solidarity across a range of groups if we are to resist cuts to our vital services and build more cohesive, compassionate communities. Movements grow from the ground up. We can’t rely on Westminster to make the changes that we want to see for us.