In this email, there are details of a few events this and next week, as well as some insightful articles. There's also a reminder to let us know if you'd like to travel by coach from Gloucestershire to the "End Austerity Now" protest on June 20th in London.
We are planning a "After the election - what now for Stroud Against the Cuts?" public meeting - provisionally on Thursday 2nd June at The Old Town Hall - please put the date in your diaries!
2. This Saturday 13th June there's another chance to get together to make placards and banners (link is to facebook event) for the June 20th "End Austerity Now" protest, at the Prince Albert pub in Rodborough, 2-6pm. Bring materials - creations can be stored at the pub ahead of the march.
3. On Sunday 14th June, 3-5pm, members of the Solidarity Federation locally are meeting in Stroud and are inviting anarchists or people interested in anarchism to "Stroud Anarchist Forum" - an informal meeting at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud to discuss responding to austerity and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
4. On Tueday 16th June, 7.30pm, Stroud Green Party host a "Where we go from here" discussion meeting at the British School, near Star Anise Arts Cafe. Interested non-members are welcome. If you intend to attend, please email: email@example.com
Travel from Gloucestershire to National "End Austerity Now" Protest
Coaches will leave both Stroud and Gloucester at around 8am on the day, with at least one coach returning by 8pm. Pick-ups in Cheltenham and Cirencester to be confirmed based on demand. Final details will be circulated ASAP.
Return coach travel will cost: £12 waged, £5 unwaged.
Free travel is available to Unison members (thanks to a donation from the Gloucestershire Local Government branch) and no-one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Urgent call to contact MEPs re: EU-US treaty
Tomorrow Wednesday 10th June will mark a crucial moment for the EU, when Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will official adopt their vision of a trade deal currently under negotiation between the European Union and United States. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal threatens further privatisation of public services and the undermining of social and environmental regulations.
If you don't know anything about this, please read (and share) this Open Democracy article on TTIP. Tomorrow is the first big test of MEPs on the extent to which they'll fight TTIP (they are split). Most anti-TTIP campaigners are rallying round amendment 27 (see link in piece) - hopinh that if the "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" mechanism (ISDS) goes, it will be a major blow to TTIP and could derail the whole thing.you can watch a feature-length documentary on "The Trouble with TTIP" for free online.
Kate Belgrave writes: "The ILF was set up over 25 years ago to pay for extra carers for disabled people with very high needs. The ILF pays the wages of the personal assistants who help disabled people wash, dress, eat, go to college, get to work and go out to social events. In a lot of cases, the total cost of people’s care packages are met partly by their local councils and partly by the ILF. A number of ILF recipients require personal assistance around the clock.
The government will close the ILF in just a few weeks’ time on 30 June. ILF recipients will rely entirely on their cash-strapped councils to pay for their care. The government insists that ILF money will be devolved to councils to cover the extra costs, but there’s considerable doubt about how long that will last and the money won’t be ringfenced by most councils. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services is saying today that £1bn will be cut from social care services for older and disabled people in the coming year. You can see why ILF recipients are concerned about their futures."
In better news, "The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has suffered legal embarrassment after a judge ruled that delays in the payment of disability benefits, which left two vulnerable claimants isolated, depressed and unable to afford food, were unacceptable and unlawful... Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Delays to Pip assessments are unacceptably common. Over two years since [their] introduction they are still not fit for purpose."
If you know someone who has struggled with PIP or other benefit payments, or who is worried about the closure of the ILF please get in touch via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Must-read NHS articles
1. Safe staffing
"Independent work on safer ratios of nurses to patients across the NHS, was a key recommendation of the Francis inquiry into failings at Stafford hospital. This week, the government quietly shut that work down." Timely access to well-qualified professional health workers is what good health systems are all about - it's not complicated. Read an excellent article from NHS nurse Mark Boothroyd on how this week's "Government u-turn on safe nursing levels [has been] branded a "betrayal" by Mid-Staffs campaigners".
Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has been talking of reducing the costs of agency staff in the NHS - but doesn't "Tough talk by the Health Secretary on NHS agency costs belie the fact that the problem occured on his watch - and as a result of his government's market policies"? That's what Benedict Cooper argues in "NHS agency staff - the market reaps as Hunt sows"
3. Alcohol and the NHS
Steve Topple, who writes for social security advice website Consented UK has written a timely and powerful article on the treatment of alcohohism in the UK: "Alcoholism, the NHS, and political hypocrisy" - "Politicians show sympathy for the sadly premature death of Charles Kennedy - but none for the ordinary alcoholic, facing cuts to services and threats of charges for A&E use."
"Warwick University staff and students call on their colleagues across UK Higher Education to support them in resisting TeachHigher. TeachHigher is a scheme whereby hourly paid academic staff will no longer be recruited and employed by academic departments [...] We oppose TeachHigher because it will institutionalise and entrench a two-tier system of academic staffing at Warwick – further separating off hourly-paid academics from those on more secure contracts."
Success in anti-academies campaign in Lewisham
Over the last few months NUT members and other trade union colleagues at the Prendergast Federation in Lewisham, together with students and parents, have mounted a tremendous campaign to oppose academy conversion proposals at three schools. Read about the successful anti-academies campaign.
An anonymous pushbike courier said: “London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and we haven’t seen a pay rise in twenty years. Most of us work nine or ten hour days on average. Sometimes I come out with less than minimum wage equivalent pay for that amount of time”. Read the full Independent Workers Union Press Release: "CitySprint Pushbike Couriers stage day-long London Living Wage protest".
"Psychological explanations for unemployment – the failings of the maladjusted jobseeker – isolate, blame, and stigmatise unemployed people. They reinforce myths about “cultures of worklessness”; they obscure the realities of the UK labour market and the political choices that underpin it. The same is true of psychological prescriptions for treating unemployment."
If you are finding it claiming difficult, please get in touch: email@example.com
Thanks for reading,
for Stroud Against the Cuts
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