Monthly Archives: January 2015

Unite In the Community

Launched in 2011, Unite Community membership, gives anyone who is not in work a chance to join Britain’s biggest union and combine with their working colleagues in campaigning for an improved standard of living for all.

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In 2014, Unite NEY&H (North East, Yorkshire & Humberside) Community membership, costing just 50 pence a week, increased significantly to reach 1000. A range of ongoing events throughout the year has encouraged more people to join and get politically active. Meanwhile, the community advice centres in Durham and Barnsley both continue to provide invaluable welfare support to local people. A third centre is due to open in Farsley at the start of 2015.

Joe Rollin is the Unite community co-ordinator for NEY&H.

Joe Rollin, Unite member

“Our members include the unemployed, disabled, retired and students. We support our industrial colleagues when they are taking industrial action and campaign against welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax that has hit many people hard. In April we assisted Leeds Hands Off Our Homes with their successful demonstration against the tax.

“We have also organised well attended protests outside the Sheffield headquarters of ATOS, notorious for their attacks on disabled people benefits, and in the day leading up to the Durham Miners’ Gala we had over 100 people outside a local job centre in a protest against benefit sanctions that are impoverishing many claimants.

“Community members are also providing, after a full programme of training, practical professional advice in Durham and Barnsley, where we have linked up with Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) and National Union of Mineworkers respectively and opened advice centres in their premises. We have managed to help claimants make successful appeals against their employment support allowances being restricted. Some bedroom tax appeals have also been successful.”

Both centres also ran practical courses including computer training, whilst also offering help with writing a CV. “It is great to see the work being undertaken by Unite community members and it is certainly needed as there is a lot of despair in our communities,” said Dave Hopper, the DMA general secretary.

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Campaigning can bring risks from the authorities especially as the coalition intends demolishing the welfare state. In March it was announced that free travel across South Yorkshire for disabled and pensioners was being scrapped. There were protests by Freedom Riders, a name taken from those who fought racial segregation on buses in 1960s America. On 23 July 2014, elderly and disabled people were confronted by large numbers of Northern Rail staff and the British Transport Police. Unite community members, Tony Nuttall and George Arthur, aged 65 and 64, respectively were badly manhandled and arrested. A vigorous campaign was needed to get the charges dropped.

“With this being election year, Unite Community will be stepping up our activities and we would welcome new members,” said Joe Rollin.

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Unite Community Anti Sanctions Day of Action March the 19th

As you will be already aware we are planning a National Day of Action Against Sanctions on March the 19th We are hoping to achieve 100 actions across the country, Its up to the Groups and Branch’s in each town and City where and at what time  they will protest, (Job Centres and Town Centre locations  at Lunch Time being the most popular so far).

Durham Unite Community will be demonstrating outside Sunderland Job Centre on both March 2nd – to offer support to DPAC'[s protest against Maximus and also March 19th.

Here are a list of links containing useful information;

National Anti Sanctions Demo Webpage

Regional Defend The Welfare State Page

National Anti Sanctions Facebook Page (over 1000 members-please share and invite your friends!)

McCluskey: Syriza’s victory makes hope possible for millions across Europe

Len McCluskey’s thoughts on the victory for anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece:

“This stunning election victory is a tribute to the Greek people who have now firmly rejected the disastrous austerity policies imposed on them by the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“The policies of the troika have done nothing but bring misery and suffering to millions of Greek people. GDP has collapsed by more than 25 per cent, unemployment has soared, wages have been slashed, and welfare provisions and labour protections dismantled. It is no wonder that the suicide rate has risen so dramatically.
“The fight of the Greek people against austerity is the same fight that British, Irish and millions of other working people across Europe are waging against the failed politics that protects the rich and well off at the expense of the poor.
“In voting for Syriza and an end to austerity the Greek people have once again made hope possible for millions of other people across Europe. Unite will watch with great interest the developments in other countries, such as Spain, where anti-austerity parties are also making huge gains, and Unite will continue to play its full part in fighting austerity to make another Europe possible.”   

NHS Strike Action- 29 January

The government still isn’t listening –the real value of pay in the NHS has fallen by a staggering 15% over the last five years.  The government’s decision to deny 60 per cent of NHS staff a modest 1% consolidated cost of living pay increase this year, ignoring the recommendation of the independent pay review body (PRB) – the first time a government has done so – sparked the first walkout by NHS staff over pay in more than 30 years. Unite, Unison and GMB members within  the NHS will be taking strike action on 29 January from 9am to 9pm

Below are details of NHS picket lines. I’m sure those taking action would appreciate support from Unite Community members who may be in the area.

Leeds Blood Transfusion Service
Bridle Path
Leeds
LS15 7TW
St James’ Hospital Main Entrance
Beckett Street
Leeds
LS9 7TF
Seacroft Hospital Main Gate
York Road
Leeds
LS14 6UH
Jubilee Wing Entrance
Leeds General Infirmary
Great George Street
Leeds
LS1 3EX
Reginald Centre
Reginald Street
Leeds
LS7 3EX
Bridlington Hospital
Bessingby Road
Bridlington
YO16 4QP
Scarborough Hospital
Woodlands Drive
Scarborough
YO12 6QL
Fieldhead Hospital
Aberford Road
Wakefield
WF1 3SP
Kendray Hospital
Doncaster Road
Barnsley
S70 3RD
York Hospital
Wigginton Road
York
YO31 8HE

Sanctions Meeting

The Durham anti Sanctions meeting organised by Unite Community took place today.

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The meeting was well attended with representatives from the Trades Council, Labour Party, Samaritans, Durham Socialist Clothing Bank amongst others

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Attendees heard fantastic speeches from DPAC, PCS, DMA, and Unite Community.

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In  addition Durham Welfare rights team offered to train our activists in how to appeal against a sanction decision (watch this space for training coming soon) and everyone is keen to help build the national protests against sanctions on March the 19th ! United We Are Strong!

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Welfare Campaigner Takes New Job- with Fitness For Work Company

Sue Marsh, a benefits activist who wrote The Diary Of A Benefit Scrounger detailing her attempts to be declared unfit for work has a new job.

Ms Marsh has been recruited by Maximus, the US company that has taken over a controversial ‘fitness for work’ test for benefit claimants. She claims to have had an “enormous, almost cosmic, mindset shift” Her new job pays £75,000 a year.

We would not usually blog a Daily Mail story but you can read the full article here

Activist News

Here are the latest updates of the Unite Activists Bulletin

Activist News Bulletin – 190115

Activist Bulletin – 190115

As you can see there is plenty happening for us to get involved with.