Monday 30 April 2012

70,000 to loose disability benefits

Today's Guardian reports that around 70,000 disabled people will this week lose some or all of their disability benefits. As the Con-Dems limit contributory benefits to one year. This is a cut that strikes at the heart of the idea of a welfare state to which working people contribute in the knowledge that they will be taken care of should something happen that prevents them from working. For shocking individual examples of the callousness of Tory cuts and why we have to fight these and other cuts to benefits, read the full article at: http://m.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/29/sickness-benefit-cuts?cat=society&type=article

Meanwhile as yesterday's rich list was released, it provided further evidence of how the very richest in society have seen their wealth grow. They are doing very well out of the recession in which we are supposed to "all in it together". So while disabled people suffer sleepless nights worrying how they will survive without the benefits the Tories have stolen, the rich are laughing all the way to the bank (bailed out at our expense) to deposit their unpaid taxes.

Stop all benefit cuts and restore those already made!
Defend the welfare state!

Vote TUSC on Thursday for candidates that fight for the millions and not the millionaires.

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Saturday 28 April 2012

Penyrheol Ward Campaign

The Penyrheol TUSC Campaign held a public meeting on Thursday, 19 April in the Aneurin Labour Club in Penyrheol. Nineteen people attended, the majority making contact with the campaign for the first time. The big issue in the area is the fact that the new hospital in Ystrad Fawr, Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr (YYF) is operating without an A&E, although it was built to have one. There is a real anger over this. The old hospital Caerphilly Miners was very popular. Every time it was threatened with closure in the past, people fought for it and saved it. The Health Authority only managed to close it last year by promising much better facilities in the new hospital. People feel very angry and let down by the new hospital's shortcomings, which go far beyond the issue of the lack of an A&E. For instance, in the past, everyone in the area was born in the Miners Hospital. Now many people are refusing to give birth at the new hospital, because the maternity unit doesn't have doctor cover.

TUSC is campaigning for a 24-hour doctor led casualty centre at YYF. Many nurses have told us how strongly they support the campaign. So far, only two people in all of Penyrheol and Trecenydd have refused to sign the petition - both for personal reasons, not because they didn't agree with it. We know this level of support won't translate into votes, but it is clear that we can build a base in the area as a first step towards developing a working class voice on Caerphilly Council.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Reject Murdoch. Reject Labour. Vote TUSC.

Rupert Murdoch in his evidence yesterday said that he had never asked a British Prime Minister for anything. There's probably some truth in that, politicians, Tories and particularly Labour ones, have been so desperate for his support that he could probably just tell them what to do. With his cosy relationship with the last Labour government and Blair in particular, he would have had plenty of opportunity at theier many sharted social gatherings.

To have a genuinely 'free press' it is necessary to take the means of production of the media out of the hands of the few rich media moghuls and put them under workers' control. In the meantime, vote TUSC on May 3 and read the 'Socialist' - a paper with no rich backers to shape its editorial line and that reflects only the interests of the working class.
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Tuesday 24 April 2012

Stop parasites sucking funds out of the NHS

The BBC news carried a story this morning about a pharmaceutical company threatening to sue a health trust in England for using a cheaper generic eye drop instead of their patented one. The company concerned claims that patients are being put at risk by the use of a unregulated treatment. Of course it couldn't have anything to do with pricing policies which rob the NHS for greedy shareholders could it?

NHS users in Wales are grateful that we are shielded (for now) from some of the worst effects of the privatisation of huge swathes of the NHS in England, through the mis-named NHS Reform Bill that has just passed. But that doesn't mean that the increasing commercialisation of health care services won't affect NHS users in Wales. Labour in Wales says that there is no privatisation of health care in Wales - in so doing, they ignore the inconvenient fact of the PFI hospital at Baglan Moors.

There are huge profits to be made for private firms in selling medicines, other supplies and services to the NHS. The same big multinational pharmaceutical companies leech of the NHS in Wales as in England, able to charge what they like for drugs that are desperately needed.

With the NHS in Wales facing even bigger proportionate falls in funding than in England, Welsh hospitals are making cuts to beds and services. HTV reported this week that operations are being cancelled due to a shortage of beds. According to the report, nearly 3,000 procedures were cancelled between 2010 and 2011. In these circumstances will Welsh local health boards be tempted to prescribe cheaper, less regulated drugs or will they simply not be able to offer treatments because of price?

A campaign to stop cuts in the NHS that fails to call for the nationalisation of the big pharmaceutical companies that bleed the NHS dry, only addresses a part of the issue. Labour won't make such a call. Cherie Blair by the way has just taken up a lucrative post with a private healthcare provider!

End and reverse all privatisation in healthcare!
Nationalise the giant pharmaceutical firms!
Free healthcare for the millions not private profits for the millionaires!

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Monday 23 April 2012

Cardiff Council Cuts Teaching Budget

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Cardiff revealed today that Cardiff Council has slashed almost £2.955 million from the main teaching budget for the city's schools.

 A request made under the Freedom of Information Act by Ross Saunders, TUSC candidate for Canton, uncovered the cut, as well as a plan to cut around another £2million over the next two years

Ross said, "This Council has cut a million every year from the main teaching budget and they plan to go on doing it. This year, Education and Social Services for Adults and Chidren were all cut in real terms, hitting the most vulnerable in society. Support for children in care will be targetted this year, while last year the Council closed care homes and cut support for elderly people who need help in the home. Essential services are being cut to the bone because Cardiff Council and the Labour-run Welsh Assembly won't stand up and fight the cuts demanded by Westminster. The Council is sitting on reserves of £61 million, and according to its own officers will be able to safely borrow another £100 million. TUSC calls on the council to build a mass campaign to demand adequate funding to stop the cuts, spend its reserves and borrow to keep services and jobs in the city while the campaign builds momentum."

Saturday 21 April 2012

UNISON members need a fight against cuts

Swansea Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates and supporters in UNISON took time out from the council election campaign to leaflet UNISON Wales Council. Unlike other parties, TUSC isn't only an election machine; we are fighting in our unions, workplaces, schools and colleges every day.

Regardless of which party wins in councils across Wales on May 3 they will be faced with the choice of whether to pass on Tory cuts. UNISON members will bear the brunt of any cuts implemented. TUSC candidates are the only ones that are committed to opposing all cuts. Vote TUSC May 3!

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Friday 20 April 2012

Labour breaks student support promise

15% cutbacks to support for Wales' most disadvantaged students
represents another broken promise by the Labour-run Welsh Government.

In Spring 2010, NUS Wales, representing all university and college students in Wales, launched a campaign called "Access All Areas" in the run-up to the Welsh Assembly elections. As part of Access All Areas, candidates for the Assembly, including every single Labour candidate, specifically pledged they would not cut the Assembly Learning Grant (ALG) from its then-current level of £5000 per year.

Now, the Assembly has cut the ALG by 6% in real terms from its 2010 level, and by 15% in real terms from its 2011 level. This cut, alongside similar cuts in the Special Support Grant, mean mature students, single parents, disabled students, and students on lower incomes will find it much harder to afford college and university education in Wales.

When the Liberal Democrats broke their 2009 pledge not to raise tuition fees, NUS rallied 52,000 students to a mass march outside Parliament and supported a season of lobbying and demonstrations. With Labour breaking its election promise in Wales, NUS Wales, itself now controlled by the Labour Party, is silent.

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition candidates, who all signed the Access All Areas pledge within a day of its launch, have also promised not to pass on any of the Coalition or Assembly cuts to ordinary working people. Labour's craven abandonment of its principles and promises shows how, both in NUS and in local government, a fighting alternative is urgently needed.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Use the Election as a Referendum on Cuts

I agree with Peter Hain for once. The disgraced Labour MP, who had to step down as Welsh Secretary over dodgy donations, has called on voters to use the Council Elections as a referendum on the Tory-Liberal's Budget, which increased taxes for the poor and cut them for the rich. See  http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/04/17/use-local-elections-as-a-referendum-on-budget-say-labour-91466-30779462/

But we can go one better than that - how about using the election as a referendum on ALL cuts budgets and the parties that put them forward, including Labour's shameful abolition of the 10p tax rate, which hit the poorest hardest?

Put a cross next to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition on May 3rd and send a message to all the parties of big business that we won't put up with their attacks without fighting back.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Southern Cross Model for Council Services

Cardiff's Liberal/Plaid Council has pledged to cut another £14million from services this year, including vicious cuts to support for children in care. Another 160 workers will be sent down the road, following the 1000 that the coalition has axed so far.

£14.5m of Council assets and £12.9 million of school land and buildings will be sold off to property developers. Huge numbers of Council workplaces will close, especially in Mental Health, and the remaining workers crammed into a handful of big workplaces, mostly in Cardiff Bay.  But it has emerged that two of the biggest - Wilcox House and Global Link on Dunleavey Drive -  aren't even owned by Cardiff Council. Why are public assets being sold off at the bottom of the market, when the prices will be at their lowest? Why are Council services going to be run out of rented buildings, allowing some landlord to dip his hands into our tax money? And why is the Labour "opposition" in Cardiff silent on the issue?

That would be TUSC then?

Dave Prentis has hailed the launch of UNISON's election advertising this week. Apparently my union is calling for members and the public to back "the party that cares about public services". Has Dave Prentis, and UNISON's leadership, seen the light and decided to back the only platform in these elections campaigning against all cuts to public services? No - he still means Labour - the party that cares so much about public services that they will not commit to reversing any Con-Dem cuts!

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition cares about public services and we guarantee that whatever our results on May 3 we will continue to build in our unions, workplaces, colleges and communities a campaign to defend all our cherished public services.
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Was Labour minister complicit in torture?

So papers are to be served on former Labour minister, Jack Straw, charging him with being complicit in the torture of Libyan oppositionist, Abdelhakim Belhadj, and so helping the Gadafi regime. Surely not?

But then you wouldn't expect a Labour Home Secretary to threaten union leaders with imprisonment for fighting on behalf of their members, as Straw did to John Hancock, then General Secretary of the union for prison officers, the POA, either. Straw later went on to ban the POA from taking strike action. It's not surprising then that the current POA General Secretary has become the third union general secretary to personally back the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the elections on May 3.

A party's ethics and outlook will be reflected in its approach at home and abroad. The trade union movement has to defend its gains, including the right of all trade unionists to take strike action but it also fights for our brothers and sisters abroad to enjoy the same rights. Labour has betrayed its founders on both counts; TUSC is true to trade union principles. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition campaigns against injustice and oppression wherever it takes place in the world.

Vote TUSC on May 3.
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Tuesday 17 April 2012

Are the unions breaking from Labour?

Reports in the Western Mail claim that Labour is hoodwinking union members into affiliating to the Labour Party. Ian Titherington from Cardiff UNISON claims that join forms are doctored after they've been filled in so that a part of each person's membership fees is handed over to the Labour Party. What a desperate situation, where officials have to resort to those lengths in order to get money, but no wonder when Labour politicians attack trade union members when they take action to defend the services they provide and their jobs and conditions. What this demonstrates is the crying need for a new party that would fight for ordinary working-class people - trade union members would enthusiastically support such an organisation.

How close are we to getting this organisation?

Well, last night the Pontyclun and Llantrisant branch of the Rail and Maritime Workers' Trade Union (RMT) voted to support the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) against Labour in the forthcoming Council election. Last week, the Cardiff Rail branch of the RMT, decided to support TUSC. (Only last year, Cardiff Rail voted to back Vaughan Gething in the Assembly elections.) The Railway workers' union was at the heart of the campaign to break with the Liberals and found a Labour Party, and branches in this area were crucial, in the Taff Vale dispute, to getting the organisation set up.

Leading Trade Unionists in Wales are standing under the TUSC banner. They include:

Les Woodward, National Convenor of the Remploy Factories for the GMB union.

Andrew Wilkes, an electrician and member of the UNITE union, who is a member of the Rank and File Executive Committee which organised wildcat strikes and protests across the UK last year.

Dave Bartlett, a member of the Wales Executive of the PCS civil servants' union.

Ronnie Job, Secretary of Swansea Trades Council.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is opposed to attempts to stop unions funding political parties. Comparing the donations of unions to the donations of the obscenely rich is ridiculous: unions have hundreds of thousands of members and are the most democratic organisations in Britain (not to say there couldn't be improvements). Unfortunately, Milliband has offered to support making ot even more difficult for unions to support a political challenge, by capping one-off trade union donations at the same level as the donations of billionairres. Thatcher's restrictions on unions funding parties should be scrapped - it should be for the members to decide how they build a political voice, not the capitalist parties.

Destroy Environment for Private Profit? Frack that!

Communities in South East Wales are bracing themselves for the potential consequences of 'fracking' - the controversial process of breaking up bed rock to release gasses trapped inside. Fracking in the UK had been suspended to allow investigation into 2 earthquakes near Blackpool. Despite an acceptance that fracking was responsible for the earthquakes, the process has now been declared 'safe' and given the green light to go ahead.
In parts of the world where fracking has been practised on a large scale it has been blamed for issues like flames coming out of domestic taps as gas has entered the water supply. The approval for fracking was probably never in doubt - under capitalism, safety concerns are seldom, if ever, allowed to interfere with the drive for profit for long.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition thinks that public utilities, like energy, should be taken out of private hands and controlled by trade unionists in the industry and by local community so that the supply of energy can be planned with the environment and safety of our communities as the top priority.
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Why stand against Labour?

Since the Coalition Government was formed, the Labour Party under the leadership of Ed Miliband has attacked proposed or actual strike action involving members of:

Aspect, Association of Educational Psychologists, Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Educational Institute of Scotland, Fire Brigades Unio...n, FDA, GMB, Irish National Teachers Organisation, NAPO, NASUWT, National Association of Head Teachers, Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance, NUT, POA, Prospect, Public and Commercial Services union, Rail, Maritime and Transport union, Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Society of Radiographers, Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, Ulster Teachers' Union, Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru, Union of Construction, Allied Trades, and Technicians, UNISON, UNITE and University and College Union.

Just in case you were wondering why Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates were standing against Labour candidates in local elections on Thursday 3rd May.

Monday 16 April 2012

As cuts bite, firms stash the cash

The government's been stealing from the poor in wage freeze and, cuts in jobs and services then giving to rich individuals and corporations through tax cuts, free labour in the form of workfare and direct bail-outs. One in 10 of the UK's richest individuals pay less than 20% income tax, according to the BBC today. They've been behaving like some perverse, inverted Robin Hood.

All our pain is supposed to be justified on the grounds of incentivising (they destroy language with the same abandon they destroy working class communities) entrepreneurship and investment but it's not working!

Much of the media tries to draw positive messages from a report from financial advisors, the 'Earnest & Young Item Club', which suggests that Britain has avoided a double dip recession. But the interesting part of the report is the section that suggests that despite all the government's efforts to pump cash into the economy, growth has stalled because companies have "stashed the cash". Big private, corporations are sitting on £billions and paying out to shareholders while our public services are being slashed to the bone.

Once again this is confirmation of what the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates are saying - cuts are unnecessary and don't work.

For further examples of how working class people are being ripped off to protect the profits of big business, and for an alternative, read TUSC councillor, Dave Nellist's article in this week's Socialist. http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14307/11-04-2012/on-3-may-use-your-vote-to-rage-against-austerity

Friday 13 April 2012

Failed Politicians Dip One Last Time Into The Trough

Failed politicians and snout-in-the-trough careerists like new Tory MP Alun Cairns have trousered £845,000 of public money since the Assembly elections last year. The figure would pay for all of the cuts to Children's Services for homeless and orphaned children that Council Council is making TWICE over.

The odious Cairns, now MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, snaffled £30,000 of "resettlement" money despite the fact that he is continuing work as an MP from the same home, and collected a £12,000 pay rise in his move from AM to MP. His only defence was that everybody else, from Plaid's Dafydd Wigley to Labour's Rhodri Morgan have done the same.

Just like the expense scandal, all the main parties have been at it. Others caught at the trough include Nick Bourne, ex-leader of the Welsh Tories, who took the highest pay-out of £51,415 as reward for losing his seat in the Assembly, former Labour AMs Andrew Davies and Brian Gibbons, who clloected £51,270 each on top of their salary and generous pension payments, as well as disgraced Liberal AM Mick Bates, who stepped down after punching a paramedic.

Ross Saunders, TUSC candidate for Canton in Cardiff, said, "This will feel linke another punch in the face for the Welsh Health Service, which is facing a savage half-a-billion pound cut in funding this year. The politicians of the main parties tell us that the money simply isn't there to pay for essential services but are very creative finding cash to stuff into their own pockets.  Politicians shouldn't be rewarded for disgracing themselves or being voted out of office. These former AMs should be forced to give back this cash to the public to spend on the NHS and vital council services. But more than that - we need representatives in the Assembly and in Councils who are there to fight for ordinary working-class people, not to fight to put themselves first in queue.  I, like all other candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, pledge to vote and campaign against cuts to services. I also pledge to take only an average wage if elected, not the huge sums sucked out of the system by the corrupt politicians of the main parties."