‘King Coal’ is not a lost cause, despite treasury short-sightedness, says Unite

‘King Coal’ has a future as a UK producer, despite ministerial short-sightedness, driven by treasury cuts, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Thursday 17 December).

And coal’s importance cannot be underestimated when there are big questions about the country’s energy security in the decades ahead.

Unite said that the closure tomorrow (Friday 18 December) of Britain’s last deep pit coal mine at Kellingley colliery, near Castleford, was yet another glaring example of the government’s short-termism in its overall energy policy.

Unite has repeatedly warned that industry, commerce and consumers face higher UK electricity prices and the prospect of the lights going out in the years ahead, because power reserves are so slim, especially during cold weather ‘snaps’.

Unite national officer for the coal sector, John Allott said: “Coal was responsible for kick-starting the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago and generating much of the country’s energy needs since then.

“The closure of Kellingley colliery is a sad end to the proud history of deep mining coal production in the UK.

“There is a future for coal in the UK and it is not a lost cause. We urge the government to turn more attention to surface mining and its future development and creation of much-needed employment. 

“We are sitting on a sea of coal that ministers now seem to have discarded in their energy calculations, despite the fact that we are living in an increasingly insecure world where oil and gas imports could be under threat.

“The last straw was the jettisoning of the £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition by chancellor George Osborne last month that would have given coal a real future, while keeping carbon emissions within EU limits. This technology is already used effectively in Canada and Sweden.

“Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd does not seem to have a grip of her portfolio and appears to be rudderless under the weight of treasury pressure. Coal is a victim – as are the dedicated workers at Kellingley – of this policy of drift, cutbacks and short-sightedness.   

“Currently 31 per cent of electricity comes from coal burning power stations, but a third of this is expected to close by next year and by 2023 the National Grid expects all power stations to close leaving a gaping hole in the UK’s capacity to keep the lights on.

“When the sun is not shining, the wind is not blowing and there is peak demand, we need other affordable, reliable and secure sources of UK energy supply.”

Unite’s policy is keep UK coal production alive, utilising CCS technology to keep coal as an integral part of a UK coherent energy policy.

My dream is achieved

Jimmy, a refugee from Sudan tells us the story of his refugee football team

FootyTeam 1

When my friend told my about Barnsley and said it is a small town, and you will not like it, also you will not find your dream of some good people and education, they told me that it would be better if you chose Manchester or Liverpool or London, so that you can live and learn quickly. They have told me that refugees and asylum seekers living there are scattered and do not know each other.

I have told them the problem is not in Barnsley as a small town and it is not the solution to go to Manchester, Liverpool or London. The problem is when a person living in a small town has small dreams the city becomes small, and when you have big dreams the city becomes large even if it is small. For the people I told them it’s important to show love, respect, trust, honesty and good ethics and then people show love to you.

Some things are not impossible, but if a man wanted only to be in a small place in a small room with small ideas and thinks only of eating and sleeping he will achieve little. But if a man wanted to transform the dream of a small idea into a big idea, this can become a successful project, creating strength from weakness.

The simple idea I had was to buy a football for three pounds and bring refugees together. I told them life is tough, but we must live with all the pain and rigors. I told them the tiger stands strong, and the eagle loves space and a life of freedom so we have to be strong like tigers and live in space like eagles do. We have a football field and we are brothers who play there and afterwards we all eat together. We also go to English language lessons at the Red Cross and then to the library for conversation and coffee.

Hearts have gathered and are united before they gather in our home lands and unite, our making of Barnsley City is unprecedented in the UK and today we dream of games with all refugees in London, Manchester and Liverpool, this is the idea of one man, now we are one hundred and fifty strong in the heart of one man.

Anything is possible within the world in which we live. Only fear prevents us from fulfilling our hopes and dreams. If we are faint-hearted or cannot be bothered to search for ways to improve ourselves and pursue our goals, even simple things won’t be achieved. However, we can be successful in achieving improvement if we are diligent and patient. Seeking advice and the opinions of good law-abiding decent people from all communities will help us all to live in a better and peaceful society.

This applies to the football team I started in May 2015 and above is a picture from that time.

My grandfather used to say that no matter how dark things may seem there is always light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be patient and determined in order to achieve our aims.

This is a story about a farmer who had a deep well. He had a horse that was old and he wanted to get rid of it because of it’s age. He asked his friends and neighbours to put the horse in the well and fill it with earth. The horse became aware that it was in great danger and as the dirt was poured into the well it shook the dust from it’s back and climbed to the top of the mound. The horse gathered all it’s strength and jumped from the highest point of the earth and escaped from the well.

Everyone marvelled at how brave, intelligent and determined the horse was. Although it was only an animal, it knew it wanted to live and wasn’t prepared to just accept it’s fate, it wanted to survive.

Sometimes a door closes, but we mustn’t surrender to disappointment, despair or worry as another door will open eventually. We must never give up, just like the horse did.

As human beings we can learn much from this. The horse was steadfast and determined in it’s resolve and we must try and be like this in our efforts to live with dignity and pride.

This is the picture taken five months after the first one and it shows how far we have come from our humble beginnings in a local park to playing matches at Barnsley Football Club. We are very grateful to the club for letting us use their facilities and providing us with our kit.

FootyTeam 2

All of us came to this country from very difficult situations in different countries and this brought us together and helped us enjoy life. This is not only because we enjoy playing football, because after the match we like to socialise by eating and drinking together. I thank God I have changed the course of my team for the better, so they are in a stronger position in Barnsley. Thank God the dream came true.

Jimmy from Barnsley

Green Party oppose Barnsley PSPOs

Proposed Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in Barnsley could criminalise the most vulnerable people in society and lead to greater marginalisation.

RoughSleepers

Barnsley Council have recently launched a public consultation into PSPOs. These are broad powers which allow councils to criminalise particular, non-criminal activities taking place within a specified area. Unfortunately, we have frequently seen them used against the most vulnerable in our society, mostly the homeless and the young.

We at Barnsley Green Party oppose their introduction, as the definitions of what can be interpreted as a criminal or anti-social activity are too vague and carry disproportionately punitive sanctions. PSPOs will effectively criminalise the poorest people in our society and not tackle underlying issues, or the causes of the activities that they seek to ban.

The way in which the questions in the consultation are worded is a cause for concern. We find questions such as, “how safe to you feel in the shaded area of Barnsley on the map?” and, “do you support the use of a PSPO to control the way that people behave in public spaces…” to be wildly open to interpretation. For example, how do you define ‘erratic behaviour’ and in what form would this kind of behaviour constitute an offense?

The questions are very much angled towards playing on the fears of the respondent regarding alcohol and substance consumption (although strangely not alcohol consumed on licenced premises), leading the respondent to give the answers that the council wants to receive in order to create consent for what could be the introduction of vague and arbitrary laws, targeted against a certain section of society.

The wider effect could be to ban rough sleepers from the town centre, as other councils have attempted recently. As the problem of homelessness grows, PSPOs are designed to keep the homeless out of sight and would serve to increase the vulnerability of an already vulnerable group.

PSPOs could also curtail our civil liberties. This means that Barnsley residents may no longer be able to protest against council or government decisions, or campaign to promote a cause without fear of being criminalised. Effectively declaring protest and free speech in the town centre as anti-social.

We are also concerned that PSPOs will be used to discriminate against people of different ethnic or religious backgrounds and against people of certain age groups.

In Oxford, the council passed a PSPO that prohibits people under the age of 21 from entering a specific tower block, Foresters Tower. Bassetlaw District Council has created a PSPO that prohibits “under 16 year olds … gathering in groups of three or more”.

All that PSPOs will achieve is to move what the council defines as problem behaviour out of the town centre and in to areas which are less well light and policed. They could lead to our residential areas feeling less safe and make no attempt to tackle underlying causes of drug and alcohol consumption. Punitive fines will hit those least likely to be able to afford them and simply fast-track vulnerable people into the criminal justice system, rather than divert them away from it. At a time of rising homelessness and poverty, we should be helping people rather than criminalising them based on their economic circumstances.

It is vitally important that people participate in this consultation by the end of January, whether they are residents, visitors, tourists, buskers or people who care about civic freedoms, public space and social justice. The more people who take part in this survey and express their constructive opposition to these damaging proposals, the more chance we have of ensuring that they do not go through. The consultation will take between 10/20 minutes to complete depending upon the amount of detail you go into it. Your response will make a big difference to this campaign, so please find the time to do it if you can.

“Sleeping rough isn’t anti-social behaviour – it’s poverty.”
Liberty

The on-line consultation can be found here.

OTJC legal submission – Media round-up

Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War

This is a guide to Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, beginning in the 19th century with the conditions and movements which led to the social revolution of 1936, and ending with the fall of the city on 26 January 1939 when Franco’s tanks drove down the Diagonal and set about destroying everything the Republic and the revolutionaries had built. Stories from the aftermath of the war, the exile and the Franco regime are also included. In addition with dealing with the more obvious issues such as anarchism, the Spanish Republic, Catalonia, George Orwell, the aerial bombing, and the May Days, etc, the book also looks at themes such as the People’s Olympiad, the American Sixth Fleet in the city, Barça, urbanism, Nazis in Barcelona, Robert Capa, the Spanish in the Holocaust, poster art…

Intertwined in the text are contemporary quotes and a few personal accounts of people who experienced the war or its aftermath. There are also biographies of figures such as Salvador Seguí, Ramón Mercader, Andreu Nin, Francesc Boix and Lluís Companys. The book is divided into two main sections: a history of the war from the perspective of Barcelona, followed by a guide to related sites which have often been included as an excuse to tell stories or illustrate wider issues. The book ends with an extensive glossary.

barcelonaAvailable to order from Amazon here.

Unite in the news: Friday 11 December

Sports Direct value plummets £400m as sales stall and controversy grows over staff pay

The results came as Sports Direct was forced to defend working conditions at its vast Shirebrook depot in Derbyshire. Chairman Keith Hellawell said the staff-checking process had been “streamlined”. But Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Gulag working conditions have no place in 21st-century Britain.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/business/sports-direct-value-plummets-400m-6992049

The flipside of the online Christmas shopping miracle

Sports Direct is no aberration: Dickensian conditions are now the daily experience of many UK workers

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/10/flipside-online-christmas-miracle-sports-direct

 Sports Direct risks a lasting stain with its grubby behaviour

http://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2015/dec/09/sports-direct-risks-lasting-stain-grubby-behaviour

 More news on Sports Direct.

Jaguar Land Rover confirms Slovakia car plant in £1bn investment

Union welcomes ‘great news’ saying overseas ventures can mean more investment for UK plants

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/jaguar-land-rover-confirms-slovakia-10583584

Pay stalemate at Bombardier as union rejects changes

The manufacturer is set to remain in talks with trade union Unite after its membership rejected a proposal to alter wages and working conditions.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/pay-stalemate-at-bombardier-as-union-rejects-changes-34277380.html

Bombardier staff reject pay freeze proposals

Unite, which represents the majority of the workforce, said it would seek “urgent discussions” with employers.

http://www.irishnews.com/business/2015/12/11/news/bombardier-staff-reject-pay-freeze-proposals-350165/

Northern Ireland: Bombardier staff reject pay freeze

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-0ba6-Northern-Ireland-Bombardier-staff-reject-pay-freeze

More news on Bombardier.

 

Don’t frack with our future

Frack640

Groups in Barnsley that oppose fracking have been invited to attend a planning meeting on Tuesday 5 January 2016, at the YMCA in Barnsley at 6.30pm, to build a new campaign to stop fracking in our area.

Fracking is coming to Barnsley. This may be a short sentence but it is one loaded with the possibility of dire consequences for the future of our environment. Just five short words that could spell out quick profits for a few investors, but leave communities to deal with the pollution of our water, air and land.

In August, the government announced a new round of exploratory licenses covering the Dearne Valley, to the east of Barnsley. This includes villages such as Darfield, Brampton, Wath, Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe and Mexborough. The next round, currently under consultation will include Barnsley itself.

Fracking is a way of extracting gas or oil which is trapped inside rocks – such as shale. To get the gas or oil out, the rock has to be fractured – this is known as ‘hydraulic fracturing’ or fracking for short. Once the well has been drilled, a charge containing explosives is passed along the well fracturing the rock. A mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped down the well at very high pressure. This opens up the fractures in the rock and, when the pressure is released, the gas or oil flows back up the well.

In countries such as the USA and Australia, where the fracking industry is much more established than in the UK, evidence is building for the detrimental effects that fracking can have on communities close to frack pads. This includes the contamination of water by leaking chemicals used during the fracking process and methane leaking through faults in the bedrock, the contamination of the air by well vents and seismic events such as earthquakes and landslides.

In November a joint meeting held by Frack Free South Yorkshire and Barnsley Green Party attracted a crowd from across the political spectrum, all concerned about the dangers that fracking could bring to Barnsley.

The meeting demonstrated that there is a solid base on which to build a local campaign to stop fracking in our area. We would like to bring together people from a wide range of political parties, groups and individuals to create a non-partisan campaign and ensure that fracking does not gain a foothold in Barnsley.

A follow up meeting has been called to discuss how the campaign will be built and aim to serve as a rallying point for local opposition to fracking.

No Fracking in Barnsley Planning Meeting
Tuesday 5 January 2016 @ 6.30pm
YMCA, 1 Blucher Street, Barnsley S70 1AP
Find the Facebook event page here.

Callum Stanland’s funeral

Leafleting outside Jobcentre Plus office in Leeds

The following letter to Unite members is from Unite Community Regional Co-ordinator, John Coan, about the arrangements for Callum Stanland’s funeral following the announcement of his passing in November.

Dear Colleague,

Many of you have been in touch after the sad passing of our dear friend and comrade Callum Stanland. I know how many of you knew Callum and that many of you will want to pay your respects and attend his funeral service.

The funeral is Weds 16th Dec 1:30pm at Grimsby Crematorium, Weelsby Ave, Grimsby, DN32 0BA

The wake will be at Grimsby Central Hall, Duncombe St, Grimsby, DN32 7EG

We will be providing a coach from the Leeds office. Can you please contact the Leeds Unite office on 0113 2364830 if you are wanting to travel on the coach.

Please bring union banners for display outside the service.

Callum’s family have asked that instead of flowers that we make a donation to the WEA in Callum’s memory

The link is below:

http://www.wea.org.uk/donate

John Coan – Unite Community Coordinator NEY&H

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