Archive for the ‘Portsmouth News’ Category

New Website!

March 11, 2012

The branch has launched a new website:

http://www.socialistportsmouth.co.uk

As well as regular posts we’ll be hosting debates, podcasts and we’ll be launching a new forum so you can join the debate.

Anti-Cuts Activists Present Alternative Budget to Portsmouth Council

February 19, 2012

Austerity is not working! That was the message delivered to Portsmouth city council on Tuesday when 100 anti-cuts activists lobbied the annual budget setting meeting, before presenting a Needs Budget as an alternative to a second wave of cuts.

The lobby was organised by Portsmouth Against Cuts Together (PACT), a community group supported by the city’s trades council. PACT brings socialists, trade unionists and community campaigners together to oppose all cuts to jobs and public services.

PACT first presented a Needs Budget in 2011 when the council voted for the first wave of cuts. This year the Lb Dem run council proposed a further £20 million worth of austerity with an intention to cut up to £45 million over three years.

Speaking at the deputation on behalf of PACT, Socialist Party member Ben Norman said: “It is clear austerity is not working. It is a failed strategy, born of a failed ideology and by continuing with it you are failing your communities.”

Deputations were also made by UNISON, to oppose the planned 250 redundancies to local council workers and by the Portsmouth Pensioner’s Association who argued that the cuts are having a disproportionate impact on those who most need support.

PACT called on the council to oppose all cuts, to reverse decades of privatisation and to reject the council tax grant from central government which will result in even more cuts in 2013.

As an alternative to austerity PACT called for a budget to meet the needs of the city, not the ideology of central government. This included investment in homes, creating climate jobs and reinstating the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Through its ownership of a commercial port the council is asset rich and has one of the largest reserve funds in the country. PACT called for these funds to be used to delay cuts while the council worked with unions, community groups and neighbouring councils to campaign for funding from central government.

As neither Labour nor the Tories, considered the official opposition, proposed an alternative budget it is clear that the unions and community groups are now the real opposition to austerity.

To continue to build this opposition PACT will be hosting it’s AGM on March 5th, 7.30pm and Southsea Community Centre.

Anti-Cuts Campaigners to Present Alternative Budgets to Portsmouth & Southampton Councils

February 13, 2012

Anti-cuts campaigners in Portsmouth and Southampton will present alternative ‘needs budgets’ to their respective city councils on Tuesday as councillors vote on the latest wave of cuts to public services.

The campaign groups, Portsmouth Against Cuts Together (PACT) and the Southampton Anti-Cuts Union, present an alternative to austerity, allowing councils to refuse to pass down cuts to the community. The budgets also present a strategy of economic recovery including the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and sustainable job creation projects.

In Portsmouth public sector workers, unions and anti-cuts campaigners will lobby the council at 1:00pm on February 14th 2012, before making a deputation to the council meeting to present their budget. In Southampton campaigners will lobby the city council at 1pm on the 15th February.

Titled Austerity Is Not Working the alternative strategy follows on from the budget presented by PACT to the council in 2011, when campaigners warned of the inevitable results of austerity.

“In the past year unemployment has risen, and young people have been forced out of education. It is clear that austerity is not working,” said Jon Woods, convenor of PACT. “If the council vote to carry out further cuts 250 council workers could lose their jobs while over £20 million will be cut from vital public services.”

PACT call on councillors to:

  • Oppose all cuts to jobs and public services
  • Reject the central government grant on council tax, which will result in even worse cuts in 2013
  • Launch a commission to investigate equality of council pay, in partnership with trade unions
  • Invest in sustainable job creation projects, as outlined in the TUC’s report on Climate Jobs
  • To oppose privatisation and bring services back under public management
  • To utilise reserves to delay carrying out cuts
  • To prepare a budget based on the needs of the city, not the ideology of central government
  • To work with unions, community groups and other councils to campaign against funding reductions from central government

“Budget day in Southampton makes for grim reading as all parties line up to support cuts while council tax bills remain sky high. Anti-cuts campaigns will continue to point to banker’s bonuses, multi-billion pound tax evasion and corporate profits as a source of finance to protect jobs and services. We stand in solidarity with council workers and campaigners fighting the cuts nationwide against the austerity agenda,” said Gavin Marsh from Southampton Anti-Cuts Union.

See footage from last years lobby:

 

Workers and Students Unite to Launch Portsmouth Anti-Cuts Campaign

November 19, 2010

Over 150 Trade Unionists and Community activists packed into a university lecture theatre last night to officially launch the Portsmouth Anti-Cuts Campaign. The meeting, hosted by Portsmouth Trades Council, sought to use the momentum generated by recent local anti-cuts marches and public meetings to build a community wide campaign prepared to take on every single proposed cut.

To open the discussion on the way forward the meeting was addressed by Laurie Heselden South East representative of the Trades Union Congress, who said: ‘These cuts are a massive experiment. No country has ever cut its way out of a recession. These cuts are not being made because they have to be. They are doing this because they want to do it.’

However, after Heselden proceeded to read the charge sheet of cuts which the public sector will be facing he then outlined the limited TUC strategy of training union reps and building for a national demonstration in March.

In contrast Ben Norman, speaking on behalf of ‘Youth Fight for Jobs: South’ challenged Heselden by proposing that the campaign should back the PCS call for a national trade union demonstration before Christmas, a proposal greeted by the first round of applause of the evening.

‘The 50,000 students who marched to defend education were but the tip of the Iceberg, a litmus test for the nation’s anger.” Norman said. “If we wait for four more months before taking national action any march may just become a funeral procession for the jobs which will have been lost and the futures which will have been blighted.’

The Youth Fight for Jobs speaker also called for the campaign to be committed to fighting all cuts and proposed standing Anti-cuts candidates in the upcoming local elections.

Contributions from the floor included discussion on the

The meeting also elected a steering committee including trade union reps, student’s union officers, and school students from the Portsmouth Save Our Schools campaign and delegates from the Pensioners Association.

The campaign will next meet on Monday, November 29 at 6pm at a venue to be decided.

 **More to follow **

Southsea Community Unite To Defend Mosque

November 17, 2010

Over 60 socialists, trade unionists, students and community organisers rushed to the Jami mosque in Portsmouth on Saturday evening to defend it from a rumored attack by the English Defense League. That morning the mosque has been vandalized by a small group claiming to be from the EDL and it was believed they would return later in the evening.

Before the resulting protest Socialist Party members approached a group of football fans who were waiting outside the mosque with a ‘support our troops’ banner. The group claimed that they were protesting against the extremist group who burnt poppies in London on Thursday, but said they had nothing to do with the EDL. This group were later joined by around 70 more protesters many carrying union jack flags and chanting ‘England ‘till I die.’

The EDL had sent a small number of members from London to agitate within the nearby football crowd and attack the mosque, however while fireworks, stones and glass bottles were thrown at both the mosque and the counter-demonstration the majority of the protesters refrained from any openly racist chanting, opting instead to sing the national anthem while calling to ‘support our boy’s and ‘respect the poppy.’

In contrast the counter-demonstration in defense of the mosque continued to grow throughout the evening, uniting local trade unionists, socialist party members and Unite Against Fascism activists with those who had gone to the mosque to pray that evening. While some individuals briefly aggravated the situation by chanting about ‘Nazis’ and ‘Fascists’ the majority of the counter-demonstrators remained calm, simply refusing to leave until the police arrived and dispersed the protesters.

While the protest was directed at the mosque the true nature of the protesters’ anger became apparent when Portsmouth South Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock appeared, seemingly just to be photographed by the press. As soon as the demonstrators saw Hancock the chants and the singing were immediately replaced with chants of: “You betrayed us to the Tories” and shouts of “It’s thanks to you that people like us are on the dole.”

It is clear that while the anger of Saturdays protesters was aimed towards the mosque, the real roots of their frustration lay in economic desperation and anger with those claiming to represent them, especially as Portsmouth remains an unemployment black spot.  It is clear that until a broad based ant-cuts movement, which poses a clear political alternative, is developed such scenes will continue as this anger is misdirected and vented.

The launch meeting of Portsmouth Coalition Against Cuts, which aims to be such a local movement, will take place on Thursday 18th November, at 7.30pm in Park Building.

Portsmouth Workers Vow: Not One Single Cut!

November 1, 2010

“We will not accept one single cut! We will not accept one single job loss!” That was the rallying cry in Portsmouth city centre on Saturday as over 150 trade unionists and students marched against the cuts.

The rally and march, organised by the PCS union with the support of Portsmouth trades council, brought together activists from across the labour movement, uniting them alongside campaigners from the Students’ Union and community groups including the Pensioners Association and the White Ribbon Campaign against domestic violence.

Socialist Party member Chris Picket spoke on behalf of the Tiny Tots Campaign, a group of parents who are fighting to save a local nursery school from closure.

Chris spoke about the importance of uniting local community led groups with the wider trade union movement and declared, to great applause, that this and other demonstrations around the country proved the need for a national demonstration this year.

Speaking on behalf of Youth Fight For Jobs: South, Ben Norman called for a coordinated campaign between the city’s student movement and the growing trade union led action.

“Students are facing an un-holy trinity of attacks in the form of higher fees, education cuts and rising unemployment,” he said. “Only by uniting students and young workers with their teachers, lecturers and with public sector workers can we defeat these attacks.”

Other speakers included the President of the Students’ Union as well as several local PCS and Unison members from neighbouring local government offices.

This demonstration will be followed by a public meeting to formally launch the Portsmouth anti-cuts campaign on the 18th November. The meeting will take place at 7pm, at Park Building and will be hosted by the Trades Council.

Students Challenge David Willets to Justify his Attacks on Education

November 1, 2010

A delegation of students and trade unionists representing Youth Fight for Jobs: South have lobbied Havant MP and Minister for Universities David Willets at his constituency office to challenge the minister on the findings of the Browne Report, student debt and his government’s plans for savage education cuts.

Accompanied by a journalist from the Portsmouth News the delegation, comprised of members of UNITE, and RMT trade unions, and Portsmouth and Southampton Students’ Unions, picketed Willets’ office, and succeeded in holding an hour long meeting with the minster who  infamously declared students to be ‘a burden on the taxpayer’.

Clare Blackwell, a medical student from Southampton University , challenged Willets on his projections for student debt and his assertion that higher levels of debt wouldn’t restrain working class college students from going to University.

Clare also rejected Willets’ claim that cuts in education would be sparing, revealing that technicians and support staff had already been made redundant and that under staffing in departments meant that in many overfilled lecture theatres students have to sit on the floor or on walkways.  

Andy Waterman, RMT member and former Portsmouth Student, said: “Willets claims that his plans will allow students to pay off this burden of debt when they graduate, but the point he’s ignoring is rising youth unemployment, which is higher across this region then it has been for a generation.”

When asked if he accepted that under a free market system some Universities would ‘go to the wall’ Willets agreed, saying:  ‘You could have private companies taking over universities. It is something we have to think about. There are a range of possibilities. No government has ever been able to offer an unconditional guarantee that universities would carry on under their existing management.”

Aside from publically challenging Willets and gaining valuable press coverage the event also succeeded in building links with teachers and union reps at Havant College  ensuring that Youth Fight for Jobs continues to play a key role in uniting students and workers across the region.

Youth Fight For Jobs: South

September 16, 2010

 

 

 

On 22nd June: Defend Jobs and Services from Con-Dem-Nation!

May 21, 2010

On the 22nd June George Osbourne will announce the Con-Dem coalition emergency budget, a savage program of cuts on jobs and services.

Trade Unionists across the city are uniting to say we will not stand by and watch a single job be cut to pay for the banker’s crisis!

At midday, as the budget is announced, we must make a stand, we must come together to stand alongside the public sector workers and say:

No to Cuts!
Defend Jobs and Services!
Defend our Post Office!
Repeal the Anti-Trade Union Laws!

12.00pm Guildhall Square, Portsmouth

Speakers to be announced.

Further details coming soon.

This event is supported by the Portsmouth ‘Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.’

As IBM Announce Redundancies Mick Tosh Blasts Main Parties for putting Rhetoric Above Reality in Manifestos

April 14, 2010

As IBM Announce Redundancies Mick Tosh Blasts Main Parties for putting Rhetoric Above Reality in Manifestos

As IBM announces a consultancy over redundancies in Portsmouth North Mick Tosh, Parliamentary Candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, called for solidarity with the workers facing job losses and blasted New Labour MP Sarah McCarthy-Fry for failing to fight to protect jobs in the city.  
 
“Our MP, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, has said that the decision to make 480 workers redundant is IBM’s ‘commercial decision to make’. That simply isn’t good enough,” said Tosh. “As our MP why isn’t she fighting to save those jobs? This happened during the Vestas campaign on the Isle of Wight nine months ago, Sarah and her New Labour colleagues consistently put company profits above the people they are supposed to represent and it has to stop.”
 
“The fact that this announcement came to light on the same day that the Tories and New Labour revealed their new manifestos shows that for all their talk and glossy printing the reality is that working people are losing their jobs and they are doing nothing to stop that.”
 
IBM, based at North Harbour, has started a 90-day consultation over a round of job losses across the UK. This latest round of job cuts in the area follows on from job losses at Fratton Park, BAE and Vestas on the Isle of Wight. In the past 6 months there has also been strike action by civil service workers, postal workers and ballot for action by rail workers. 
 
“Each and every time that working people in this area have been faced with job losses or are being forced to fight for their conditions or pensions we have been there to support them, but that cannot be said for New Labour. That is the entire point of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, we are not only representing ordinary working people, we are ordinary working people representing ourselves.”
 
“The three main party’s manifestos push political rhetoric over reality. Labour say they promise ‘a fair future’ for all and the Tories invite us to ‘join the government’, but we won’t be taken in by that. All they are really promising are cuts and more cuts.”

“As the TUSC manifesto shows we are the only party, and I am the only candidate in Portsmouth, against cuts and for defending our vital public services. We don’t simply promise a fairer society, we are standing to build that society with working people by building a new political alternative that fights for us.”

The Manifesto for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition can be downloaded here:
http://www.tusc.org.uk/pdfs/TUSC%20leaflet.pdf

A final Pre-Election TUSC rally will be held on the 4th May at Cosham Community Centre, 7.30pm. Invited speakers include representatives from the FBU, RMT, PCS and POA unions as well as workers from IBM in Portsmouth.