For info, please find links available for you to get support and advice from your trade union. Do contact UNISON Coventry City branch if you have any queries.
There is currently:
a Right to Remain campaign and legal advice document produced jointly with JCWI https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/09/24055.pdf
a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/UNISONEUMembers/
a page on UNISON’s website on tackling prejudice and xenophobia (including leaflets which can be ordered)https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/knowledge/discrimination/tackling-prejudice-and-xenophobia/
UNISON are also organising regional and other local meetings on issue. To find out more information on this please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope this is a useful start and we will organise an update for you in the new year, as work progresses.
Coventry City UNISON
We have a draft template of a letter ref Connecting Communities, for you to download (Word format), edit and send on to your MP.
For those who don’t do Microsoft, the text is below….
Coventry City UNISON
Dear X MP
I am writing to you regarding the Connecting Communities programme that Coventry City Council has put out to consultation.
As one of your constituents I have great concerns about what is being proposed and believe that it is going to have a very negative impact on our city.
Connecting Communities will hit libraries, children’s centres, youth services and nursery provision. There is a real danger that the universal offer of public services and access will be determined by where you happen to live. It is hard to see how the proposals actually play a role in ‘Connecting’ our communities.
I also am very worried about the Council intending to sack paid staff and replace them with volunteers (for example in the library service). We are not aware of any examples of where this has worked for the benefit of the staff and also the local community who use these services?
Coventry needs public services that are accessible and accountable, particularly in times of austerity and it is surely the wrong choice to make these cuts. I understand that the funding from central government has reduced since 2010, however at the same time the Council has increased its reserves.
As our MP I would urge you to defend public services in our city – and would ask what are you doing to defend these vital services and to win more funding from central government for Coventry?
I believe the council should abandon these proposals, use its considerable financial reserves to continue to support these services and actively campaign with the citizens of Coventry to demand full funding of these public services from central government
If ‘Connecting Communities’ continues then it will be to the detriment of the city. I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.
This is a general heads up. After the fantastic 2,500 strong National Demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries, we are now planning a series of regional marches starting in Warrington which faces drastic library cuts. The local campaigners are looking at dates, depending on when the council plans to press forward with its plans. Please be prepared to pull out all the stops to support this initiative. We want all public sector campaigns to rally around this issue.
On Saturday, November 5th, the National March for Libraries, Museums and Galleries drew a good crowd, estimated between two thousand and two thousand five hundred people in press reports.
Initiated by local trade union branches representing public sector workers in the cultural services and library campaigners, the march drew library staff, members of the public, workers in museums, galleries, archives and the arts, trade unionists, authors and illustrators. It surpassed the organisers’ expectations.
On a bright, crisp autumn morning, supporters including campaigners from Warrington, Swindon, Coventry, Merseyside, the North East, Wales and elsewhere gathered near the British Library to hear speeches from Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Warrington, Swindon and Coventry campaigners, authors Philip Ardagh and Alan Gibbons and others.
A lively march weaved its way through central London to Trafalgar Square where speakers included the legendary Ralph, eleven-year-old Barnet campaigner, poet Steve Tasane, Clara Paillard, President of the PCS Culture Sector, Kathleen Smith from Bromley Unite, Barnet Unison members striking to save local libraries, poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen, Douniazed Zaouche from the French trade union, the CGT, Paula Peters from the disabled campaign group DPAC, Zita Holbourne from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Sara Wayid from the Museums Association, Sarah Kasab of Unite, a representative of the Durham Teaching Assistants, Bob and Roberta Smith, Cathy Cassidy, Sian Berry of the Green Party, Corinne Sweet of the Writers’ Guild and Megan Dobney from the South East Region of the TUC .
For years the Department of Culture Media and Sport has hidden behind the funding arrangement for the cultural sector which leaves councils in charge, but operating within nationally determined funding and strategic planning. This allows central government to step back and say, mischievously: “Not down to us, people. It is all the responsibility of those wicked councils.”
Added to this, cuts have fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of the large metropolitan councils, most likely to be run by the Labour Party. Saturday’s demonstration, while not absolving councils of responsibility, reminded the public that it is the government which sets overall funding and which has failed consistently to provide leadership. Ireland and New Zealand face the same severe economic conditions, but have made far fewer cuts, partly because, particularly in the case of libraries they have national plans.
Campaigners are now seeking meetings with the Culture Ministers and are actively discussing a series of regional demonstrations to further raise consciousness among the public of the havoc wrought by the failed ‘austerity agenda.’
The North West region is taking responsibility for staging the first such march and is scheduled for Warrington in the New Year. As speaker after speaker insisted, this was a qualitative gear shift in campaigning.
The campaign has only just begun.
This film gives a sense of the march:
Please download and distribute the flyer for this event. Thanks. disconnecting-communities-dec016-demo-flyer-final
Seven councils ‘revolt’ against £100m top-up payment for West Midlands Pension Fund
The West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) have asked the councils to pay an extra £100m this year because of the fund’s £2.8bn deficit.
The fund has more than 287,000 members working for about 520 employers. Local councils have seen their budgets cut heavily in recent years. Birmingham, which has been asked to contribute £65m of the £100m, has had to reduce its spending by £500m during the past six years and expects to have to cut another £250m by 2020. “The hard-pressed citizens and taxpayers in Birmingham should not be asked to find £65m a year to bail out investment fund managers,” said John Clancy, Labour council leader.
The WMPF spent £69.8m on managers in 2015/16, down from £81m the year before. It is budgeting £72.8m for 2016/17. The WMPF has returned 5.6 per cent annually during the past decade, beating the benchmark of 5 per cent. The retail price index has risen by an average of 3 per cent annually. Labour councillors for Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall are trustees of the WMPF but are poised to reject its professional advisers’ request for the £100m “top-up” fee.The WMPF noted that it had cut running investment costs by £11m in 2015/16 to £69.8m, 0.6 per cent of assets.
WMPF plans to pool resources with eight other funds to create the LGPS Central, which will have £65bn in assets. It should save £200m in annual costs by 2034.
Chris Burrow, Pensions Champion for Coventry City UNISON, said
‘Employer contributions to the pension scheme are deferred pay. They are not an optional part of membership of the scheme. They are part of the employees’ contractual terms and conditions. Central government underfunding of councils should not be used by the employer as an excuse for undermining the pension scheme. All pension schemes have been put under pressure this year due to low investment returns caused by recent instability in the financial markets. The schemes make investments for long-term returns, and short-term fluctuations do not provide evidence of pension funds underperforming or being unsustainable.
If the employers were concerned about the efficiency of the schemes, they could have identified these savings in running costs and influenced the pension schemes to act earlier if they had been so minded. UNISON’s success in getting members represented on pension boards has allowed greater transparency in the schemes’ running costs. Identifying ways of reducing these costs doesn’t absolve the employers’ from their responsibility of paying their employees’.
Latest Issue – articles on Connecting Communities, Palestine, Jeremy Corbyn and more….
Essential reading for all public service workers in Coventry.
GET IT HERE – union-street-news-issue-15