Solidarity Magazine » Job cuts Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Yeovil TUC: Opposing cuts, organising solidarity Mon, 07 May 2012 13:18:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> First, a bit of local South Somersetworking-class history. George Mitchell (1826-1901) was a hero of trade unionism in the 19th century, when most rural workers had no vote and lived under appalling conditions. Born in Montacute, into extreme poverty, he worked initially as a farm labourer before getting a job on Ham Hill in the quarry. In Frome, he became qualified as a stonemason. Moving toLondon, he became rich through his stonemason’s business. He decided to use his wealth to return to Somerset to improve the lot of agricultural workers and their families by building the National Agricultural Labourers’Union. George organised open-air mass meetings, starting in Montacute where about 1,000 people gathered and resolved to set up a branch of the union. This was followed by mass meetings in Chard, Yeovil and elsewhere. To emphasise his humble beginnings, he called himself “One from the Plough”.

Some of his biggest meetings, attracting as many as 20,000 men, women and children, were held on Ham Hill. One such meeting, in 1875, passed a resolution, proposed by George, demanding votes for all adults. Another resolution demanded “a school board in every parish” – meaning universal primary education. You can read all about George in a fine book by local writer Brendon Owen. It is called-of course- One from the Plough and is sold only at Montacute post office!

We believe that the present dire situation requires a revival of such mass action, demanding economic justice. If our forebears could do it without phones, emails or Facebook, what is stopping us? Only lack of confidence in ourselves and each other.

The main functions of our local trades union council are to organise solidarity with workers who are in dispute with their employer, to exchange information, and to represent the trade union movement in the local community. Currently our main concern is to oppose the cuts in public services, pensions and state benefits. You may remember that we initiated a Town Meeting on the subject in February. Currently, the Somerset County Council branch of UNISON is urging its members to wear black wristbands in memory of the Somersetthat we believe is being destroyed. Council leader Ken Maddock wants to turn the County Council into a mere commissioning body, employing only a fraction of its former staff and getting almost all of its much reduced services done by private profit-seeking contractors. We appeal to anyone who wants to join us in campaigning against the cuts to contact us via our website

The closure of public libraries is being challenged in the High Court. The County Council wants to close the small library inSunningdale Road. One of our members has set up a Facebook page called “Save Sunningdale Library in Yeovil”. Why not join? Every little helps!

At our May Day celebration this year, one of the speakers was an 18-year-old student who had taken part in the student demonstrations against the rise in tuition fees. He told the meeting that his whole generation felt a deep sense of having been betrayed, and that they would never forget it.

All state secondary schools in the Yeovil area have now become academies. We think that this is an attack on local democracy. One local head teacher has described the involvement of the County Council in his school as “bureaucracy”, but we call it democracy. This move is the very opposite of the localism that the government claims to believe in. The schools will become more like businesses that have been awarded a government contract, and less like public services. Services previously provided by the County Council will now be provided by private companies driven by the profit motive. That is a backward step for education.

If your pension is being reduced, your housing benefit is being cut, you are losing some of your child benefit or tax credit; if you have lost your Education Maintenance Allowance, your job, your local bus service, or whatever it is, please tell us about your experience. You don’t have to suffer in silence! Use our website or write to the Secretary, Yeovil TUC, at Unity Hall,Central Road,YeovilBA20 1JL.

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Tories propose 500 firefighter cuts after strike Tue, 09 Nov 2010 11:28:01 +0000 Continue reading ]]> London could lose 500 firefighters and one in six of its fire engines under new cost-cutting measures proposed by its Tory leadership. Fire authority chairman Brian Coleman has ordered an investigation into the feasibility of removing 27 tenders from the brigade’s 169-strong fleet.

Each tender is manned by four crews of five firefighters — meaning that 20 jobs could be cut for each fire engine taken off the road. Engines would be taken from fire stations with two pumps to avoid closures.

The proposal was described as inflammatory and comes after the Fire Brigades Union called off a bonfire night strike following two earlier walkouts.

But Mr Coleman said the FBU action — during which the capital’s emergency fire cover was provided by 700 private contractors using 27 fire engines — had highlighted an apparent surplus of equipment and firefighters.

The 27 engines remain “off the run” and are being held on stand-by at a depot in Ruislip in the event of future strikes. The brigade has also been operating with FBU staff refusing to work overtime as part of their action against proposed shift changes. London has about 5,500 frontline firefighters.

But Mr Coleman said: “We are really grateful to the FBU for showing us that there are possible efficiencies. The union has banned overtime for two to three months and London doesn’t seem to have come to a halt.”

Brigade officers are due to report within a fortnight on the savings. The brigade is facing a 25 per cent cut in government funding — which makes up 60 per cent of its budget — over the next four years. It is understood that 260 firefighters are able to retire immediately, having completed 30 years’ service. Other posts would be cut through two years of “natural wastage” and a continued recruitment freeze.

Mike Tuffey a Lib-Dem member of the fire authority, said: “In the very same week that the fire union and management are finally sitting down and talking it is truly extraordinary that Brian Coleman should produce this rabbit out of the hat’ proposal. His badly-timed proposal will only fuel the worst fears of the workforce.

The Mayor must overrule Brian Coleman and make it crystal clear to Londoners that next year’s budget will not see any ill thought-out cuts to front-line fire services.”

From the London Evening Standard

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Cutting jobcentre staff while unemployment rises is 'absurd' Mon, 28 Jun 2010 17:00:12 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Plans announced by the Department for Work and Pensions today to cut 8,000 jobs from jobcentres by March 2011 are “economically absurd”, PCS says.

Job cuts on this scale are unprecedented at a time when unemployment is continuing to rise and the move will not just add to the jobless figures, it will further damage the economy and seriously hit help and support for the unemployed.

These are the first largescale job cuts announced by the new government, and the union says it proves the coalition’s deficit reduction plan is being driven by ideology rather than ideas.

Instead of slashing public spending, and running the risk of plunging the country into another recession, the government should be investing in the public sector and creating jobs to increase tax revenues and reduce welfare payments.

The union also says that if the government was serious about tackling the debt, it would target the wealthy individuals and organisations whose tax avoidance and evasion measures contribute to an estimated £120 billion being lost to the UK economy every year; introduce a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on currency transactions; and cancel the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system.

Shortly after last week’s budget was announced, PCS described it as “one of the most regressive we have seen for many years”, and this has since been confirmed by independent economic analysts. The planned rise in VAT from 17.5% to 20% next January will disproportionately affect people on low incomes. And plans to cut welfare spending by £11 billion included forcing more people off disability living allowance, a three-year freeze to child benefit and cuts to tax credits.

Now in a message to staff, DWP says it wants to cut posts in jobcentres from just over 84,000 to about 76,000 by March 2011. The cuts will be to fixed term appointments, hurriedly made 18 months ago to cope with rising unemployment when the first effects of the recession were felt. The appointments would not have had to be made if DWP had not cut 30,000 jobs between 2005 and 2008, and the union has said consistently that these staff should be made permanent.

PCS is seeking to work with other unions and campaign groups to form the widest possible alliances to defend communities across the UK from the devastating social impact of the government’s cuts to the welfare state

PCS is seeking to work with other unions and campaign groups to form the widest possible alliances to defend communities across the UK from the devastating social impact of the government’s cuts to the welfare state.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

When unemployment is still rising, it’s economically absurd to drive even more people out of work and sever the lifeline for thousands and thousands of vulnerable people in our communities.

While the millionaires in the cabinet repeat the PR mantra that ‘we’re all in this together’, unemployed workers, pensioners, disabled people and low-paid public servants are forgiven for wondering why they are being made to shoulder all the burden.

In just one month, this so-called ‘progressive coalition’ has set in train the most disastrous economic plan in living memory – the effects of which would be felt for decades to come if we don’t do something about it. The time has come for unions, community groups, campaigners – and everyone who believes a better, more just, future is possible – to unite against this shameful attack on the public sector and the welfare state.”

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Vestas occupation – all power to their elbow Tue, 21 Jul 2009 16:46:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> A press release from Jerry Hicks, candidate in the election for Amicus-UNITE General Secretary

On Monday 20th July workers began occupying part of the Vestas wind turbine plant at Newport on the Isle of Wight in protest against threatened closure at the end of the month. 600 jobs would be lost.

Vestas is the world’s biggest wind energy group and recently reported a quarterly sales rise of 59%, up to €1.1bn (£0.95bn). They’re coining it in. They obviously think they can play around with jobs all over the world and don’t have to be held to account for ruining workers’ livelihoods.

The workers want Gordon Brown to step in as if it was a troubled bank and save the jobs and the production of wind turbine blades. He gave the bankers trillions.

Jerry Hicks saidPoliticians generate enough hot air to power a thousand wind farms. Now it’s time to put words into action. The government say they care about climate change and talk about creating 40,000 ‘green jobs’. The first step should be protecting these 600 by taking the factory into public ownership.”

There is a large picket of support starting outside the factory. This will be crucial in giving confidence to the people inside. The Vestas workers will no doubt have been inspired by the victory of the Lindsey oil refinery strikes which set a fine example in protecting conditions and creating jobs and by the occupations at the Visteon plants in Basildon, Belfast and Enfield which all succeeded in winning better severance payments.

The entire labour and trade union movement should offer the Vestas workers total solidarity. Groups such as the Campaign Against Climate Change are also on the case. They are calling a demonstration on Wednesday 22nd July at 6pm outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change offices in central London. There is a support meeting in the Methodist Hall, Newport on the Isle of Wight 6.30 to 8.30 on the same evening.

“Save jobs and save the planet!” is the Vestas workers’ rallying cry. And quite right too. The government is forever going on about encouraging wind and wave power and curbing our carbon emissions. Well, that’s what these people do for a living and now they’re facing unemployment.

Support the occupation!

Jerry Hicks can be contacted on 078 178 279 12

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22/07/2009 6:00 pm

DECC, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2HD

Just when we need a huge expansion in renewable energy they are closing down one of the two wind turbine factories in the UK. The government has spent billions bailing out the banks, and £2.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the UK car industry – they can and should step in to save the infrastructure we are really going to need to save us from climate catastrophe.

Join us in a demonstration this Wednesday 22nd July outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, No. 3 Whitehall Place (off Whitehall, Charing Cross tube). Map here.

Solidarity with the Occupation at Vestas – London Meeting

Save Jobs, Save the Planet

6pm, Friday 24th July

University of London Union, Malet St (nearest tubes, Goodge Street, Euston)

Speakers include: Vestas Worker, Chris Baugh, Ass. Gen Sec, PCS (pc), Campaign Against Climate Change.

Further details to be announced ASAP.

Campaign Meeting – Newport, Isle of Wight.

Wednesday 22nd July, 6.30-8.30pm at the Methodist Church Hall, Quay Street, Newport

We are setting up a campaign for Vestas workers’ families and Isle of Wight residents to show their support for keeping jobs at Vestas. The families and communities campaign will be very important in keeping spirits up through this stressful time. For more details call 07775 763750.


Come to St Thomas Square in Newport at 5:30pm on Friday 24th July where we will be making a very public display of how we feel about the Vestas closures!

Come to the Isle of Wight to support the struggle!

Ring 07775763750 for more information.

Donations etc:

Rush messages of support to 07980 703115 and 07970 739921 and 07733 388888 Email solidarity messages to Visit the plant at Monks Brook, Newport, PO30 5WZ

Send a donation from yourself, your workplace, your trade union or campaign organisation. Cheques payable to Ryde and East Wight Trades Union Council, 22 Church Lane, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NB.

Flood Energy minister Ed Miliband with emails and phone calls. His email is His phone number in his Doncaster constituency is 01302 875 462, and at Westminster, 020 7219 4778. Flood him with calls for the government to take over the Vestas factories, guarantee all the jobs, and keep producing under workers’ management.

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Sacked Visteon staff vow to continue blockade Sat, 11 Apr 2009 14:14:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> VISTEON workers fighting for justice after being summarily sacked vowed on Friday to blockade their factories into next week.

A High Court injunction that forced an end to the workers’ takeover of Visteon’s Enfield plant in north London has failed to stop the mass picket being mounted at the factory’s gates.

The 200 workers voted to end their occupation on Thursday but have remained at the site to stop their bosses from stripping the factory of machinery, while pledging to continue blockading the car parts manufacturer until Visteon bosses meet their Unite union reps next Tuesday.

Some 650 skilled manufacturing workers at Visteon’s factories in Belfast, Basildon and London were given just a few minutes notice on March 31 that they were being thrown out of work – without any redundancy pay.

The workers in Belfast and London immediately took over their factories, while others in Basildon barricaded their plant’s gates.

After nine days of occupation, many workers are confident that they are about to win.

Unite convener Kevin Nolan related that he had attended negotiations between the union and Visteon bosses in New York on Wednesday and said that the talks were “positive.

“He said: “Having Derek Simpson negotiating on your behalf, you couldn’t have got anything better. He did a fantastic job.”

“But I’m more optimistic now that we can get a result, but we are still prepared to be here until we get justice,” he insisted.

Linda, another worker standing at the factory gates in the light rain, added that the workers “will never give up.”

She held out a letter given to her by Ford when the car company turned its car parts division into the separate Visteon corporation in 2000.

“‘For the duration of your employment with Visteon, your terms and conditions will mirror Ford conditions. This means lifetime protection while an employee of Visteon of all your contractual conditions of employment,” she sead.

“We are hoping for a deal that honours this contract, gives us the same redundancy pay that any Ford worker would get, and gives us a guarantee on pensions – these are the things we are fighting for,” Linda stressed.

From the Morning Star

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HMRC office closures Fri, 05 Dec 2008 17:51:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Westgate House, Bridgwater were informed today that HMRC has confirmed the closure of the office that has served Bridgwater for more than 40 years. The offices in Yeovil, Frome and Wells will also close leaving only an office in Taunton to effectively cover the whole of Somerset. Weston-super-Mare office will also close.

In total PCS members in over 90 offices across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were told that their buildings would close. These closures will affect 3500 staff.

Commenting Kevin Thorpe, Branch Chairperson for the Devon & Somerset Revenue Branch PCS and spokesperson for PCS members in Bridgwater said:

HMRC have stated that they plan to vacate the Bridgwater office by no later than March 2011. However, in reality only a handful of staff will remain beyond June 2009. There will still be an Enquiry Centre, which has 2 members of staff. However, as this service currently relies heavily on support from the so called back office staff to maintain it’s current opening times of 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday it is quite clear this service will also face severe cut backs once the other staff have been moved out of the building. With the exception of Taunton the same will apply in the other Somerset towns that HMRC is vacating.

As suspected the 8-week consultation period was a sham. Right across the UK there was overwhelming support for the retention of HMRC offices yet almost without exception HMRC has completely ignored the views given from staff, unions, MP’s, Councils, Businesses and the public. PCS members in Bridgwater would like to thank everyone for the support they received and urges them to write to HMRC, the Government and their local MP registering their disgust at the decision.

Whilst no one currently working in the Bridgwater office is expected to lose their job as a result of the closure, they are being transferred to the Taunton office, it does mean the permanent loss of these jobs to Bridgwater & the obvious impact that will have on an already struggling local economy.

Once more this is an attack on small towns & rural communities across the UK & it is even more difficult to accept as this has the official approval of HM Government”.

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