Bradford Uni joins the USS pensions dispute

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni - photo Iain Dalton

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni – photo Iain Dalton

UCU members at Bradford were one of four universities which joined the dispute over the USS pensions scheme in on Tuesday 6th March.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Staff here had to re-ballot after narrowly missing out on reaching the 50% turnout threshold imposed by the Tories latest anti-union laws.

UCU members told us that picketing numbers were up on previous strikes. Many staff were incensed that management is intending to impose 100% wage deductions for staff who won’t reschedule lectures.

One picket told us “They’re trying to deny our right to strike. While management say our strike is penalising students, this deduction is effectively locking us out on non-strike days.”

Some students joined the picket lines, chanting “What do we want… pensions, when do we want them… when we retire” This reflects a fear amongst young people that if existing pensions schemes aren’t defended now, then what will exist in the future?

Socialist Party members got a warm reception from pickets, grateful to welcome support on a cold windy day. We will continue to build support for strike over the next few weeks.

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Protesting to Defend Children’s Services in Bradford

Socialist Party members joined a People’s Assembly organised protest  in Bradford city centre on Saturday 10th February 2018  in response to £13 million cuts to Early Years and Prevention child services.

Julie Carr, Bradford Socialist Party

Around 50 people attended, including Unite union representatives, staff working for the council,  families that been helped by these services, independent Bradford  councillors as well as the general public.

The weather was not the best but many people stopped and signed the petition. Speeches were given by: someone who had suffered from post natal depression helped by these services and  David Ward (independent councillor). When one of the local Unite reps gave his speech I was shocked to learn that 437 people are to lose their jobs. This was because I had read the reports in local paper; The Telegraph and Argus, whom only recorded the job losses as 200.

I spoke at the protest to talk about cuts in Bradford in general. I felt it was important to do so as they all have a knock affect with each other. Especially in the case of the planned STP across West Yorkshire.  In these new proposals more closures are planned, such as reducing the present number of stroke units across West Yorkshire.

This I felt was a particularly important point to make at this protest. Often it is the job of child services to support disabled or ill parents. If there is no support who is going help stroke victims with childcare and travel during rehabilitation

Protest against cuts to early help children’s services in Bradford

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Trade unionists, service users and supporters protest against proposed cuts to early help service – photo Iain Dalton

Around 20 people gathered in Centenary Square ahead of Bradford Council’s monthly meeting to protest against the proposals in the consultation of the the early help service, part of the Children’s Services directorate of the council.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The plans which are currently being consulted on propose £13m cut mostly in making up to 480 staff redundant but also downgrading children’s centre across the district, currently used by 22,000 children aged 0-4 years old, 60% of all under fives.

Trade unionists in the council, users of the service and their supporters distributed leaflets produced by the local unite branch, with a warm reception from the public.

David Ward, former Lib-Dem MP, and now an independent councillor in Bolton & Undercliffe ward – spoke to demonstrators opposing the proposals and mentioned the Green group on the council were challenging the proposals too.

Unfortunately, the response from the Labour leadership on the council is to double down on pushing these cutbacks through. Val Slater, the Executive member covering the service told the local press “Naturally people have a right to protest but until Government starts to address our major concerns regarding funding for children’s social care, then we have to manage with the limited funding we have.” As if the government are going to change their position without pressure being exerted on them to do so.

If Labour councillors want to follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies then they ought to be leading the fight to force the money out of the government to fund vital local services, such as this or the library service which faces a further near £1m worth of cuts in the forthcoming budget proposals. Anything less than doing so is a dereliction of duty for those who want to fight the cuts, which should include putting forward a no-cuts budget for 2018-19.

In the meantime, campaigners are planning for a second, larger demonstration to take place outside the council budget setting meeting in February. Socialist Party members will be arguing that this should be opened out to all those fighting against the various raft of cuts being made by the council.

Defend children’s services in Bradford

A good start was made to the campaign to defend council-run children’s services in Bradford at a public meeting on December 5th, with representation from service users, trade unionists and community campaigners.
The stark facts were laid out: Cuts being made to children’s services of £13.3m are likely to see up to 480 jobs going, and will also affect children’s centres which will be brought into the new service. The Unite Shop Steward (who helped organise this meeting) has also been victimised over the issue.
The meeting made it clear that we can’t rely on trade union action alone to defeat this brutal cut, instead campaigners need to involve parents and service users.
Plans were made for immediate action to be taken, starting with a protest on December 12th outside the next Bradford Council meeting and a further public meeting on December 19th, at 7.30pm at Bradford Deaf Centre.
But socialists, community activists and trade unionists have made it clear that they are far from deaf to the affects these cuts and job losses will make and will be battling the council all through the festive season to force them to listen.
Bradford Socialist Party

BadArt world tour event in Skipton has succesful launch

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BadArt exhibit curator and artist Peter Harris (left) wth Bradford Socialist Party member and exhibitor Alan Hardman (right) – photo Paul Gerrard

Skipton is a quiet market town better known as the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’ than it is for revolution. But on Friday 6th October socialist artists and activists, as well as the general public, from Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire gathered there to view a dazzling selection of work by artists loosely grouped around BadArt.

Paul Gerrard, North West Socialist Party

Here were surrealist collages, intricate installations, disturbing paintings, photographs of demos, bold placards, banners, posters and cartoons in amazing variety. There was no monopoly of style or political position. The organiser of the show, Peter Harris, explains: ‘the diversity of the show was my main focus…. The arts enrich our lives as does the power of the imagination and although completely focused on the primary need for a socialist transformation of society we must never lose sight of the importance of creativity’.

Alan Hardman, a legendary cartoonist whose work has appeared in the Militant and the Socialist over four decades, was present to meet visitors and talk about his work. As ever he was generous with his time and his prints. Unfortunately Jean Stockdale, an internationally known ‘Outsider’ artist who was inspired to exhibit here, was unable to attend.

BadArt is not a school or a genre but a shared recognition that art can inspire us in our struggle and that imagination must be part of the DNA of a socialist future, where no-one will be an ‘artist’ because everyone is one, free to develop their creativity without political or economic constraints. As Trotsky and his collaborators put it ‘to develop intellectual creation an anarchist regime of individual liberty should from the first be established’. Several of the exhibitors here have had no formal artistic training, but have a passion to create.

The event was attended by 80 people, more than any other preview at the gallery, and, in addition to personal art sales, raised £150 for BadArt. The 17th century Mill Bridge Gallery overlooking the 18th century Leeds – Liverpool Canal provided a fitting setting for art which points to a socialist future.

The exhibit is open 10am-4pm on Thursdays and 10am-5pm Fridays and Saturdays

For more information see badartworld.net and https://www.facebook.com/Badartworldnet/

Keighley Rejects the EDL

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EDL march through Keighley whilst locals tell them they’re not welcome – photo Iain Dalton

“Get out of our town and take your racism with you,” was one of the messages hurled by shoppers at the small contingent of EDL members trying to stage a demonstration in Keighley. Massively outnumbered by police, around 40 members of far-right EDL met a respinse that celarly indicated Keighley folk didn’t want them there.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

This protest on Saturday 2nd September, was originally supposed to be one of two demonstrations that day, with EDL members set to descend on Bradford where threats of acid attacks against women wearing the Burka had been made in the preceeding week.

Yet the Bradford protest was called off, and the Keighley demonstration only took place due to the 4 lines of police seperating them from angry locals. An indication of the EDL’s poor state of organisation at present was they didn’t appear to have a megaphone, so no-one apart from them could hear their racist message.

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Socialist Party banner on one of the counter-demos – photo Tanis Belsham-Wray

Around 100 people, locals and anti-fascist campaigners gathered to oppose them on the other side of Church Green, whilst Unite Against Fascism held a similar sized protest which was kettled by the police around 500 metres down the road.

Socialist Party members from Bradford district, and neighbouring towns, intervened in both counter-protests, getting a good response to our leaflets linking the need to oppose the divise politics of the far-right with a clear opposition to austerity and the capitalist system.

 

Angry march against Bradford council-approved incinerator

Marching against the Aire Valley incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

Between 500 and 600 people showed a palpable level of anger not only to the proposed building of a waste incinerator in Keighley, Yorkshire, but also the decision by Bradford’s Labour-run council to pass the plans.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

Conversations we had with people at the protest on 25 March soon turned to anger towards the council with one protester saying: “Where was the consultation for this plant? People are still not aware that it will even be built and they have railroaded this through!”

“Incin-er-ate” one of the placards on the march – photo Iain Dalton

Pollution

If this site is built we can expect a 180-foot-tall stack and toxic smoke covering the district. Around 60 wagons a day are expected to add to the pollution. All of this contravenes Bradford council’s own environment project and plans. Clearly, cash speaks louder than the health of people.

People on the inspiring march into Keighley town centre engaged with us on the route, applauding us for making a stand. Motorists and passengers sounding their horns.

Socialist Party members joined the march and distributed a leaflet opposing the incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

At the rally in the town centre one speaker put the facts straight about employment at the plant saying the initial estimate of 500 jobs to be created was now actually 79 at best. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition banner was unfolded and drew a lot of attention with people linking cuts, poor life chances and the building of this plant.

We will now become more active in this campaign and hopefully the local community can push Bradford council back on the horrendous decision taken.

Leaflet distributed on the demo