Tag: Barnsley

Coalition Against Sanctions

Barnsley saw the launch of its Coalition Against Sanctions tonight at a packed meeting hosted by the Bedroom Tax Campaign.

The room was buzzing after fantastic speakers from Richard Vivian of Unite Community, Tracey from the Bedroom Tax Campaign and Brian from the Trades Council, who noted that lots of organisations were present. From welfare rights teams to food banks, alongside trade unionists, including many from Unite Community.

It was decided to call for the largest action possible on March the 19th, when Unite are planning 100 simultaneous demonstrations right across the UK. Watch this space! Onwards and upwards!

Get ready for Universal Credit

Get ready for Universal Credit and improve your computer skills.


Universal Credit is being introduced in Barnsley on 2 March 2015 for new claimants who would have previously been eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Unite Community Support Centre will is open for computer classes every Wednesday between 11.00 and 14.00. Call in for a chat, or ring 01226 215 557 to find out about how we can help.

View the flyer: Universal Credit Poster

Trade unions for the young

Unite is going into schools – students are liking what they hear

Unite Live – Mark Metcalf, Friday, December 19th, 2014

The situation facing many young workers is dire. Despite Tory millionaire ministers and rabid right-wing tabloids urging them to ‘Get a job!’ there are not enough to go round.

From July to September 2014, nearly three quarters of a million young people aged 16-24 were unemployed, a percentage rate of 16.2 per cent.

For those lucky enough to find work the happiness can be short-lived. Zero hour casual contracts have multiplied, the minimum wage has become the maximum and anyone standing up for their rights can quickly find themselves back out of work and facing being forced on to workfare programmes.

Like every other worker, young workers can only end their exploitation by being collectively organised within a trade union. Problem is that at school there’s no such thing as trade union education.

Consequently, when young people join the world of work most have no understanding of why joining a trade union could be the best thing they can ever do. Little wonder that just seven per cent of workers aged 16-24 belong to a trade union.

Determined to end this sorry state of affairs has led to the development of the Unite in Schools programme. This has seen Unite community co-ordinators working with regional education officers to identify trade unionists to be trained as schools speakers with skills to engage with pupils aged 14-18.

The aim of each organised session with young people is to encourage student discussion and active learning. The materials available to help with this are short films, lesson plans and info graphics, a brief history of trade unions and their activities and seven interactive exercises. The response by schools and pupils to sessions already organised has been healthy.

Dramatic change

In South Yorkshire, Unite has developed links with Kirk Balk Academy in Hoyland, just outside Barnsley. On Monday December 15, full-time student and Unite community member Harry Rollin, aged 18, assisted Andy Pearson, Unite regional education officer, with a one-hour session for 14-15 year olds and amongst whom only a handful admitted knowing anything about unions at the start. That had changed quite dramatically after 60 minutes.

“I had sort of heard about unions from press reports about strikes,” said Emily Lovell.

“I didn’t understand until today the actions were about improving pay and workplace rights. I have discovered the history of trade unions and how everyone has a better chance of being properly paid if they join together. It is good that unions fight for maternity rights because you need time off work after having a baby. I see why people join a union.”

Fellow student Shannon Powell agreed. “The session was interesting, I liked the video’s and I learnt a lot about unions and why you might need them at work,” she said.

Contact your regional Unite Community co-ordinator if you’d like to get involved with the Unite in Schools programme. If you are a school governor then why not consider getting your school involved?

From the Freedom Riders

Hi All,

Monday’s lobby outside Sheffield Court gave us the sweet smell of victory.

Well over 100 turned up including many trade unionists with their trade union banners. The atmosphere was one of excitement and jubilation.

After the lobby we marched through the centre of Sheffield and down to the train station. Then we decided to go and introduce ourselves to the British Transport Police at their office on platform 1 and to demand an apology for their behaviour. Unfortunately none of them came out to meet us. Perhaps they were feeling shy.

Following a rally on the platform, which got applause from passengers throughout the station, a number of us boarded a train and had a freedomride to Meadowhall.

Please try to come to our meeting this Friday 12th at 11am Barnsley library where we will plan out events for the new year. There will also be some of our new t-shirts celebrating two victories in our campaign on sale – might be the perfect Christmas present!

On the following Monday 15th we have the lobby of the Transport Committee on Regent Street Barnsley at 1pm followed by our Christmas party in the YMCA with food and music.

And at the party you will be able to hear the first public performance of this song:

Thanks for all the support given to Tony and myself in the lead up to the (abandoned) court case.

All the best,

Here are a few photos from the protest at Sheffield Interchange.

Seconds out, round three!

10822594_751459111602080_1951433753_nRound 1 was getting the cuts to diasbled passes completely 100% overturned.

Round 2 was the charges against Tony and George were thrown out of court.

Round 3 will be the reinstatement of the Freedom Rides unless the local Transport people reinstate the pensioners free train travel!

The t-shirts should be available at the Freedom Ride victory celebration.

Charges dropped against arrested Sheffield rail protest OAPs

This article by Alex Evan originally appeared in The Star.

Charges against two rail cuts protesters aged in their 60s who were arrested at Sheffield Railway Station have been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS confirmed to The Star that charges of obstructing police and fare evasion against Tony Nuttall and George Arthur will no longer be taken to trial.

The ‘Freedom Riders’ from Barnsley Retirees Action Group were arrested on June 23 during protests against cuts to travel passes for elderly and disabled people.

The pair, aged 65 and 64, were handcuffed, arrested and bundled away by British Transport Police officers – prompting outrage from Sheffield Disabled People Against The Cuts and BRAG.

A video showing Mr Arthur being arrested by a group of officers and security guards went viral online.

Comments on The Star’s website accused officers of being ‘heavy handed’ in the way they dealt with the protesters.

Tony Nuttall was charged with obstructing a police officer and George Arthur with obstruction and fare evasion.

The pair had been due to face trial at Sheffield Magistrates Court on December 8.

Mr Nuttall said he felt ‘relieved’, and that the Freedom Riders campaign will continue to protest against cuts to rail passes for the elderly.

He said: “I personally feel very relieved but I think more than that, I feel pleased for the travel pass campaign.

“It’s not the final victory but I think this will be a real boost to the campaign.

“People at our meeting were elated.”

Mr Nuttall said himself and Mr Arthur have filed formal complaints against British Transport Police for the way the pair were arrested.

The BRAG protest organised for the date of the trial will now be changed to a ‘celebration’ of the charges being dropped, he said, with transport being laid on across South Yorkshire.

That will be followed by the group lobbying the next meeting of the South Yorkshire Transport Committee on December 15 at Regent Street, Barnsley, and again on January 5.

The ‘Freedom Rides’ which involve protesters travelling on trains across the region without paying as a form of protest, had been put on hold while Mr Arthur and Mr Nuttall faced trial.

But Mr Nuttall said the rides could re-start in January if the group is unsuccessful at getting free travel for the elderly reinstated.

He added: “This is another win for the freedom riders in our on-going battle. We won round one in June when we got back free travel for disabled people and half-price on the train for older people.

“Now we have won round two.

“Round three is coming up and we intend to keep on fighting as hard as we can.

“We are not going to do any freedom rides at the moment.

“But If the Transport Committee and the Combined Authority do not give us a commitment to reinstating free train travel by January, then we will re-start the freedom rides.”

NHS pay strike solid as public support swells

Members of Britain’s largest union Unite working for the NHS were out in force today (Monday 24 November), joining tens of thousands of health workers who took part in a second four-hour strike over pay.Commenting Rachael Maskell, Unite head of health said: “Today’s second strike action for fair NHS pay has been strongly supported with Unite health members joined by colleagues from the country’s leading health unions at over 120 pickets across England and Northern Ireland, behind a swell of public support.”

Across picket lines protesters held up ‘fair pay now’ and ‘peanuts won’t pay the bills’ placard messages in the second four-hour strike over the government’s refusal to implement the Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommended 1 per cent pay increase for all NHS staff.

Rachael Maskell added: “Our members have been especially grateful for all the messages of support they’ve received from the public. They see the unfairness of the government’s decision to deny NHS staff a decent cost of living pay increase after years of pay freezes.

“The nation’s 1.35 million strong NHS workforce has been forced, reluctantly to strike for a second time after suffering a 15 per cent cut in their wages since 2010. Today also heralds the start of eight weeks of working to rule by Unite members.

“Our members are working harder and getting poorer. It doesn’t have to be this way. We are urging the health secretary to value the vital work of NHS workers who would rather be caring for patients than fighting their own poverty.

“Health secretary Jeremy Hunt cannot keep turning his back on hardworking health workers. With the Welsh government reaching a pay settlement last week, there can now be no excuses for Hunt’s continued refusal to get around the negotiating table.”


Travel pass campaign update

Join lobby at Sheffield Magistrates Court 9am December 8 to defend Tony and George. Coach from Barnsley at 8.15am.

The date of the court case is now rapidly approaching. Support for the rally outside the Magistrates Court is building and we need to re-double our efforts to make it as big as possible.

We had a great day leafleting for the rally in Doncaster last Monday. More than 20 of us turned up and we got a good reception from the people of Doncaster.

The next leafleting sessions are now:

Monday, 24th November, 11.30am, meet at the Transport Interchange In Rotherham. If you are going from Barnsley, there is a 22 bus leaving stand 19 at 10.20 that arrives in Rotherham at 11.22.

Monday, 1st December, 11.30am, meet at the Bus Station in Sheffield.

Friday, 5th December, 11.30am, meet at Barnsley Bus Station (a previous email said that this was going to be on Thursday 4th. This was a mistake – it is definitely Friday 5th.)

A reminder that there is free transport from Barnsley down to the rally on Monday, 8th December, leaving Barnsley at 8.15am. We now have over 50 booked. If you want to go down on the free transport from Barnsley, please reply by email or ring Tony Nuttall on 0775 883 6854.

We also now have a free coach going from Doncaster and stopping on the way at Rotherham. This is a great opportunity to get as many people as possible there from Doncaster and Rotherham. Further details will be circulated as soon as possible.

Our next open Freedom Rider meeting will be next Friday, 28th November, at 11.00am in Barnsley Library. I hope we can get a really big turn-out so that we can plan for the court rally and to continue our campaign.

To finish, here is the text of a letter that Ged Dempsey, a print worker, has sent to the newspapers. It shows how our campaign is getting wide support, including from industrial workers. Let’s continue to build! Unity is strength!


The South Yorkshire Freedom Rider campaigners deserve the praise and recognition for standing up and fighting for the rights of vulnerable people and public transport with their peaceful protests.

Not only should there be affordable and accessible public transport but its right it should be free and concessionary for the elderly and disabled.

Northern Rail have used the police and private security to defend their action. How much has this cost?

The Condem austerity frenzy and funding restrictions are the root cause of this odious cutback although it was backward and not a progressive or enlightened step in the south yorkshire councils who made or defended the decision to to axe the funding.

It was politicians, bankers, casino economics and corporate greed that caused the deficit not the public. Yet again its us that pay the price whilst they return to business as usual!

The police have blocaded station platforms and kettled, yes kettled elderly people including the blind and disabled.

It is perverse that two of the voluntary group, retired Ton Nuttall and George Arthur,  find themselves in Crown court next month when it was them who were attacked by the brutality of transport police – attacking a peaceful protest and vulnerable people.

The freedom riders have been supported nationwide. The train company’s and police Action has again shamed our area across the world – in denying people the right to peacefully protest and defend their rights.

Their are plenty of footage on the interenet and on you tube for readers to view.

I urge people to protest to their MPs and  council in supporting the south yorkshire freedom riders and the above campaigners who are in the dock.

That we have free travel for the elderly and disabled who have paid into the big pot for a lifetime.

In solidarity
Ged Dempsey
Print worker”

More on this story here.

Local welfare provision consultation

The downloadable document below provides information about the Governments consultation on welfare provision – which is currently open for response.  This is in relation to the planned withdrawal of funding for the Local Welfare Provision from April 2015.

In Barnsley this funds the Local Welfare Assistance scheme, which provides grants of goods, and emergency loans to vulnerable people.  You may not be aware that in Barnsley this resource also provides financial support to the Trussel Trust Food Bank, and to advice agencies to provide increased capacity for vulnerable people.

The withdrawal of this fund is likely to result in the closure of the Local Welfare Assistance scheme from April 2015, and end financial support to these resources.

Consequently we urge your organisations to respond to this consultation, in support of the retention of this vital fund.

141010 letter on lwp in 2015-16 consultation

Support Tony and George

Lobby outside Sheffield Magistrates Court, Castle Street S3 8LU

Monday 8th December at 9am


Tony Nuttall and George Arthur were violently arrested by British Transport Police at a Freedom Riders rally in Sheffield station on June 23rd.

This followed a series of peaceful mass ‘Freedom Rides’ by elderly and disabled pass holders from March 31st. They are charged with obstructing the police and not having a valid ticket and are summonsed for a 5 day trial.

Free bus from Barnsley 8.15am provided by Unite the Union. To book a seat on the bus please call 07758 836854.

Download the flyer: Freedom rider version 2