Category: Fighting Cuts

Barnsley Anti-Austerity Demo

Saturday, May 23 at 12:00pm

May Day Green Barnsley

Come and raise your voice against more Tory cuts in Barnsley, that are crippling our local services to the poorest and most vulnerable.

Save Our Nurseries

Unite Community Members From Leeds Today helped the Campaign by leafleting the Nurseries See below how to support the Campaign

Senior managers at Leeds City College are proposing to close three nurseries. They are at the St Bartholomew’s Centre, Armley, the Brudenell Centre, Hyde Park, and the Thomas Danby Nursery, Sheepscar. The closures would lead to the loss of at least 36 jobs. These are skilled members of staff who have dedicated much of their lives to the care of children. This would mean the end of all Leeds City College nursery provision.

The main reason given for the closure of these nurseries is financial. The nurseries appear to be losing about £80,000 per year. However, Leeds City College has an annual income of nearly £90m. Principal & Chief Executive, Peter Roberts, now earns £185k so with the associated on-costs that would be enough to cover the supposed nursery losses over the last three years. Instead of working with the trade unions to secure the future of these nurseries, senior managers have been in discussion with private childcare providers about our nurseries. (Why are they sniffing about unless the nurseries can be profitable ?)

Many students depend on these nurseries. They have a right to high quality and accessible childcare, which provides good value for money. However, most private nurseries employ staff that aren’t as well qualified, are less convenient for many students and charge a higher fee. The limited funding for childcare places, for students on low incomes, goes further with our nurseries. Moreover, staff at private nurseries are usually less well paid, as well as employed on worse terms and conditions. These staff have a right to good jobs. These are jobs that could be filled by Leeds City College childcare students in the future.

There is a shortage of childcare places across Leeds. The staff want to keep their jobs. The Leeds City College nurseries are viable. All we are asking is for College management to work with us so that we can prove to them that this is the case. All we are asking for is a reprieve of ONE YEAR so that the staff can demonstrate that the nurseries are a viable proposition.

Women’s Assembly Against Austerity

Six Unite Community Members from Doncaster made the trip to the Women’s Assembly Against Austerity in London on the 22nd of February, following on from the success of the previous week’s Women’s Event in Doncaster. Please see full report here
Unite Community Members are really gearing up the activities in Doncaster, supporting strikers, running a local food bank and offering Welfare Advice. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.


womens assembly


Doncaster Unite Community Anti-Austerity Conference

Saturday the 15th Of February Saw Doncaster Unite Community Members come together for a Conference against Austerity.

The First Session was Titled Austerity Against Women – Women Against Austerity and include speakers   Lyndsey German (People’s Assembly) and Kate T from London – who has been  working  for ten years trying to sustain and support women led groups who help survivors of domestic violence. The conference heard how Austerity is impacting severely on women’s rights cuts to emergency services and child care are making it very hard for women across the country.  Doncaster Unite Community will be taking six women to the Women’s Assembly conference in London Saturday 22nd February

The second Session focused on Social justice with speakers Janet Alder (Deaths in Custody Campaigner) Mike Simons – film: ‘Still the Enemy Within’ and Barbara Jackson- Orgreave truth and justice campaign. The speakers talked about the different Campaigns for Justice and the need for working class solidarity. A whole list of Anniversary Strike Events can be found here

dony 1

donny 2

Doncaster Against Austerity

Join with UNITE COMMUNITY members on February 22nd @ Doncaster Women’s Centre from twelve noon to discuss, debate and decide how to organise in our town against austerity. Week by week, jobs, services and many important aspects of our life are changing and changing for the worse. The welfare state that has been set up to protect us from cradle to grave is lambasted as an unaffordable out of date idea.

This is leading to massive attacks on the most vulnerable in our society – women and children.

12.00 pm – 1.15 pm – opening session:
Austerity Against Women – Women Against Austerity
Lindsey German: National People’s Assembly organiser
Katy Taylor Aya Project: The Imkaan and Women’s Aid Capacity Building
Partnership (PC)

1.15pm – 1.45 pm – coffee break:
Buy a Raffle Ticket in Aid of Doncaster Unite Community Food bank

2.00 pm – 3.30 pm – Last session:
Benefits Advice: Know Your Rights – Know Why Benefits Matter.
Speaker to be confirmed
Thirty years after the Miners’ Strike – Campaigning for Justice For All

Barbara Jackson: Orgreave, Truth and Justice Campaign
Mike Symonds: Documentary maker of ‘Still the Enemy Within’
Janet Alder: Campaigner against deaths in police custody
Session Chair: Joyce Sheppard Women Against Pit Closures ’84-85′

Joe Rollin Unite community coordinator.

Louise Harrison @ women’s centre/platform 51, Cleveland street, Doncaster town centre
contact by text 07949 436356

Download the flyer here: donny womens 2

‘Unintended’ housing benefit cuts hit tenants

17/01/2014 | By Paul Hebden

Councils are cutting off housing benefit payments to tenants who are entitled to receive them, as an unintended consequence of sanctions applied to other benefits.


Jobseeker’s allowance and employment support allowance claimants can have sanctions applied to their claims if they miss appointments or fail to do enough to find work. But many are also having their housing benefit cut, because they are unaware that they need to tell councils their financial circumstances have changed. Local authorities are stopping claims as a result.


Charities warn they are dealing with a rising number of housing benefit problems as the number of JSA and ESA sanctions soar – because many recipients don’t realise the reductions could affect their claim.


The number of sanctions against benefit claimants deemed not to be doing enough to find work increased to 860,000 in the year to June 2013, the highest for any 12-month period since statistics began to be recorded in their present form.


Housing associations have also reported anecdotal evidence of tenants falling into rent arrears as a consequence of housing benefit being cut off the back of another sanction.

Homelessness charities, including umbrella body Homeless Link and Crisis, have raised the problem with the Department for Work and Pensions. They are feeding into a review of the way sanctions are communicated, being carried out for the DWP by Matthew Oakley, a former economist at think tank Policy Exchange.


Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, said: ‘People are not being advised that their housing benefit will be affected and that they may need to re-apply for it. Often they only realise there’s a problem when they are in arrears or facing eviction.

‘There needs to be clear communication between the different [council] benefit departments to prevent people’s housing benefit being affected by sanctions [applied elsewhere].’

In its evidence to the Oakley review, Homeless Link called on the DWP to ensure the potential impact of a sanction on a claimant’s housing benefit is explained – and how a claimant can avoid this happening.

A spokesperson for Circle Housing Group confirmed it was starting to hear ‘anecdotal’ evidence of problems as a result of sanctions being robustly applied.

A second association, that did not wish to be identified, confirmed it had seen similar problems.


A DWP spokesperson said that sanctions should not affect claimants’ housing benefit.


Benefit sanctions


860,000 sanctions issued by the Department for Work and Pensions in the year to June 2013


4.35% proportion of jobseeker’s allowance claimants sanctioned per month

2.60% equivalent proportion of sanctions under Labour between 2000 and 2010

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

Read an article about this issue in Inside Housing.

Out and About on the Streets of Barnsley


Unite Community activists have been out and about this week spreading the message about the Community Support Centre at the NUM Headquarters, 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley S70 2LS Telephone 01226 215557
The Freezing weather didn’t stop a dozen or so activists from leafleting around Peel Square in Barnsley, where members of the public told us of the difficulties either they, or their friends & families were experiencing because of welfare cuts and the hated bedroom tax.

The day was a great success, with our activities being reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Dearne FM And Radio Sheffield. On the second day of activity, we took our message out to Worsbrough Common and Honeywell estates, delivering leaflets throughout the estates and arranging for posters to be displayed in a number of local shops, businesses and the local Workmen’s Club.

Again, the day was a great success with locals already arranging appointments to visit the centre for advice.

[responsive_gallery gallery = 5]


Grandad shoots himself after finding out his benefits were being stopped

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness

Tributes: Flowers at Shaun's home
Tributes: Flowers at Shaun’s home

A grandad who had just found out his benefits were being stopped shot himself dead – after telling friends he was “unable to cope”.

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness.

He was told he would have to be reassessed and needed to prove he was eligible. But as the hearing approached, friends said Shaun, a licensed gamekeeper, became discouraged.

Days later he called police and said he was about to kill himself. They found him dead at his flat.

A neighbour said: “There were armed police everywhere. Sadly he’d gone through with his threat.

“It is a tragedy. He was upset because he got a letter saying his ESA was being stopped.

“He was pretty down about it and said he was finding it hard to cope with the decision. He was a lovely man. It is not fair what the Government is doing.”

Well-wishers left floral tributes and cans of Stella outside Shaun’s home in Beighton, Sheffield.

The neighbour added: “It all got on top of him – having no money for Christmas and being warned he’d lose his benefits.

“It’s wrong what they’re doing, targeting people on benefits. We haven’t got a lot of money but the Government seems intent on cutting it.”

Registered gun-keeper Shaun was divorced and had two grown-up children and a two-month-old grandson.

Another neighbour, Shani Hird, said yesterday: “We have lost a dear neighbour who shot himself due to his money being stopped. His appeal was due next week but he felt he could not carry on.

“This is so sad. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. I think it is terrible the Government’s benefit cuts are causing vulnerable people so much pain and misery.”

Police yesterday confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances.

Shaun’s estranged family was too upset to talk. He joins a growing list of people who have taken their lives since the Tory-led Coalition employed private firm Atos to reassess thousands of people on long-term benefits.

Blind Tim Salter, 53, of Kinver, Staffordshire, died after being deemed fit to work. A coroner ruled the move to axe his benefit had contributed to his suicide.

Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped.

Jobless Richard ­Sanderson, 44, of ­Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart. Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, also took his own life.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.

Originally published in The Mirror or 5 Jan 2014- Link

Hardline university bosses refuse to budge on pay, as 3 December strike looms

Hardline bosses at cash rich universities are blamed by Unite, the country’s largest union, for failing to reach a fair settlement before a second day of strike action at UK universities on Tuesday (3 December).

Despite talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) refused to budge, so Unite’s members in higher education will be joining Unison, the University and College Union (UCU) and the Scottish education union, the EIS for a one day strike on Tuesday.

Unite contrasts the five year pay drought which its members have endured, resulting in a 13 per cut in pay in real terms since 2008, with the lavish remuneration packages – averaging just under £250,000 a year – that the UK’s vice chancellors enjoy.

Unite national officer for education Mike McCartney said that the one per cent pay offer on the table for 2013/14 was “completely unacceptable”, given that the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector was now over £1 billion.

Mike McCartney said: “We had a very successful one day strike on 31 October when our members were heartened by the strong support from other staff, students and members of the public.

“The intransigence of the employers, who are sitting on a cash mountain of £1 billion, has not moved us forward. No new offer, other than the existing one per cent, leaves the higher education unions with no choice, but to take further strike action on 3 December.

“The unions are at a loss as to why the meeting under Acas’ watchful eye went ahead with nothing extra being put on the table – it makes a mockery of the concept of negotiation.

“It should be not be forgotten that it is the hard work of higher education staff that keeps Britain in the top ten of the world’s universities.

“While highly paid vice chancellors travel the world, in some style, drumming up student numbers, it is our members that underpin the whole higher education system.”

Unite’s membership embraces technicians, laboratory assistants, administrators and facilities management staff. The union has about 20,000 members in higher education.

college 3 college strike 2 college strike