Probation Officers and Bedroom Tax Action

Probation Officers Strike

probationAny visits to the picket line outside New Bridewell police station welcome. The strike begins at 12 noon on Monday 31st, and continues Tuesday 1st April from 8am. The strike is against plans to privatise 70% of the services work. There will be picket lines and protests on Monday and Tuesday organised alongside the Justice Alliance (the organisation that’s been defending Legal Aid from Graylings attacks).
Details of the dispute are here:

PROBATION Staff to Strike Against Reckless Gamble with Public Safety

 On Monday 31st March from 12:00pm and all-day on Tuesday 1st April, Probation staff in Avon & Somerset will join colleagues across Englandand Wales on strike. At a time when all Probation Trusts are achieving ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ performance

[1] and are well financially managed[2], the Government is determined to abolish them by 1st June. It then wants to hand over supervision of up to 250,000 offenders to private companies by October-December 2014.

The Government has argued the changes are needed to cut costs and reduce re-offending by people sentenced to less than 12 months in prison. Probation Trusts currently have no role working with these people, but they could take on this extra work and deliver reduced re-offending, whilst achieving further cost efficiencies.

Ian Lawrence, head of Napounion & professional association for Probation staff, has said “It’s not something our members take lightly but they feel that these proposals will have such an impact on public safety that they have no choice”

[3].We are concerned about how this will affect the local communities in which we live and work in Avon & Somerset, where we manage the sentences for over 5000 offenders

[4]. We work in specialist teams with partners such as the Police, housing, education and drugs services to focus on those who commit the most serious violent and sexual crimes. This is complex work that requires highly-trained and experienced professionals.

The Government wants potentially hundreds of private companies, with no experience of ‘offender management’, to take over the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders on an untested, payment-by-results model.The potential for significant mistakes involving public safety is extremely serious; something acknowledged by the Government’s own risk register

[5], including an 80% risk that “…an unacceptable drop in operational performance will lead to delivery failure and reputational damage”.

The Government is desperately working to a parliamentary timetable to complete the changes before the next General Election, instead of taking the time necessary – however illogical the plans – to make sure they are safe and effective. Napo, whilst opposing the changes, is calling for an immediate halt to the changes, so that a pilot of them can be completed before any national implementation.

Bedroom Tax


Don’t forget the DAY OF ACTION on 5 April from 12.00 – 1.00 pm in Broadmead (outside BHS)! We need a good turnout for this, trade union banners would be welcome.

So far we’ve received support from Bristol Disability Equality Forum, Unite the Community and the Bishop of Bristol among many others. Our press release will be going out early next week. Now we need people to come along. We’d expect to attract the interest of passing shoppers but we shall need our own supporters there.

There’s a flyer to help you put the word around attached to this message.

This will be a national Day of Action so please put this in your diary and help Bristol do its bit to make a splash against the Bedroom Tax on Saturday 5 April.Planned so far are some excellent speakers, a little bit of street theatre and also an advice stall to help people appeal against the Bedroom Tax. Please bring banners, placards, friends and anyone you know who is affected by the Bedroom Tax – but mostly bring yourselves.

Press coverage today further discredits the Bedroom Tax (see these links to the BBC and Guardian coverage this morning Bedroom tax fails to help tenants move, says report and It’s official: the bedroom tax causes misery). It’s an unpopular measure and we need to turn the tide of public opinion even further aganst it. Now’s the time to show our opposition – so be there if you can.

And a reminder: Last planning meeting for Day of Action is at 8.00 pm on Monday 31st March at Hamilton House. Come along and add your ideas for the Day of Action. Please contact me on 07758806144 if you will need a lift to get there.

Bristol and South West Unite the Resistance

March Dispute News

NHS PAY SQUEEZE – A STEP TOO FAR- Say NO! on Budget Day Wednesday 19th March, outside BRI, 7-8.30am

Our reaction to Jeremy Hunt’s latest pay insult to health workers should be swift and strong.  The current pay offer is an attempt to  destroy our national pay agreement while spinning it to make it seem like we all get a rise.  Please join other activists outside BRI main entrance to talk to the public, press and other staff and demand decent pay for NHS workers.

Despite the Independent Pay Reveiw Board recommendation for a 1% pay rise to all NHS staff, the government want to freeze pay scales for NHS staff in England, with the headline 1% going only to those at the top of their incremental pay bands (‘non-consolidated’ like a bonus and we lose it next year).  This would leave 600,00 nurses and thousands more support staff without a pay rise at all!

Moreoever, this offer also includes a pernicious attempt to break our nationally agreed pay scales next year by offering us another rise (non-consolidated 2% only) as long we all forgo our increments.

Under the current government the NHS is constantly under attack.  Experienced NHS staff are being encouraged to leave through down-grading, re-organisation and increased work as we grapple with the affects of £20billion cuts.  Those of us who remain are seeing pay cuts in real terms due to years of below inflation pay offers and pension contribution increases and 40,000 of us receive less than the Living Wage (£7.65 an hour).

As UNITE nationally plans to hold a consultative ballot for all 100,000 NHS members, UNITE Bristol Health activists have called this action to start discussions between all NHS supporters and build the confidence of all to oppose this further attack on the NHS.

Please come along if you can and please spread the word.

In Solidarity,

Gwyneth Powell-Davies –  For UNITE Bristol Health branch

NUT Strike Day
Details of the NUT teachers’ rally in Bristol on their strike day (March 26th) are : 1130 assemble College Green. 12 noon march through centre to rally at Castle Park (stalls, food, music, speeches etc.). Forv details of the dispute click here.
Probation Staff across England and Wales will be going on strike from midday on Monday 31st March and all day on Tuesday 1st April.
Any help you could offer in publicizing the strike and/or helping on the picket lines would be much appreciated.

In Avon and Somerset Probation, we have offices in Yeovil, Taunton, Bridgwater, Worle, central Bristol and Bath; so members will be picketing outside these offices!

We are against the Government’s plans to abolish all Probation Trusts by 1st June and to privatise 70% of  Probation work. The companies likely to be taking over Probation work are akin to Serco and G4S, although these companies were ruled out of the bidding due to gross misconduct such as massively over-charging the Government in the electronic monitoring of offenders in the community.

The plans are on a dangerously tight time-table, driven by the Government’s determination to complete the changes by the next election, rather than what would be necessary to make sure the changes are safe and effective.

Kind regards,
Matt Austin (NAPO).

Dispute News

Teachers’ Strike

The NUT are renewing their strike action with another one day strike on Wednesday March 26th. The last such national strike was with other workers in the public sector on 30 November 2011. Since then a series of regional school strikes have happened jointly with the other main school union NASUWT. The NUT is calling on all concerned to support striking teachers, before and after the marches and rallies that will happen on 26 March.

Rank-and-File Construction Network
Please see link here to the ‘Site Worker’ network. 
Save Our City
Next meeting of the anti-cuts group is at 7pm – Wednesday 5th March – Kings Centre (former Deaf Centre), 16-18 King Square, Bristol BS2 8JL.
March 22nd ‘Stand up to Racism and Fascism’ Demonstration
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There are two coaches from Bristol  open to the public. The coach provided by Bristol Unite Health branch will now leave Anchor Road (outside @Bristol) at 8am. The coach is primarily for Unite health members, but there are likely to be spaces for non-members as well. So register your interest early. Light refreshments will be provided on the coach.The contact for this coach is Chrissie at 07983 233908. Free to Unite members, £5 for others, £3 for unwaged.
The Unite Against Fascism and students supported coach is due to leave Frenchay Campus at 730am and will pick up in central Bristol and Bath. Contact details for this coach are  07855 139940. Price is £6 or £4 student/concessions.
Unite South West region are also planning a coach, but this is for Unite members only. Contact Karen at Unite (Tony Benn House) for details of this.
There will be a union activists meeting on Tuesday 11th March at Hamilton House, supported by local union branches and UAF to help build for the demonstration and to follow up with local activity.  Full details will be sent out shortly. 
Bristol and South West Unite the Resistance

Local Dispute News

Council Cuts

The council have begun a series of ‘consultation’ meetings with staff over the planned £90m. budget cut and loss of 800 jobs (equivalent to 10 per cent of the workforce). It’s clear the council will begin first with a voluntary redundancy scheme and then move towards compulsory redundancies to achieve their target of job cuts. Unison, Unite and GMB have been working with the ‘Save Our City’ public campaign to oppose the cuts, building up to the city wide demonstration on Saturday February 8th. 

Local Government Action 


Unison are calling for a Day of  Protest on February 4th against cuts in pay, jobs and services in local government. Local branches are deciding on the precise nature of the protests, many of which are likely to include lunchtime rallies and demonstrations.

Royal Mail 

Bristol East delivery office are moving towards strike action over management breaking flextime agreements. At the national level 115,000 Royal Mail and Parcelforce workers in the CWU are set to ballot on whether to accept or reject the deal that led to strikes being called off at the end of last year. The ballot will run from 15 to 29 January.

Support the Post 16 Education Strike!

City of Bristol College, University of Bristol and UWE will take strike action tomorrow (Tuesday December 3rd). A joint rally will be held in Bristol, from 1-2pm at College Green. City of Bristol College, University of Bristol and UWE (UCU, Unison and Unite) will rally here after their pickets at the respective three institutions. Speakers are Dominique Lauterberg (UCU NEC), Harriet Bradley (UCU NEC) and Nigel Costley, secretary South West TUC.

and for students

Save our City and ‘The Enemy Within’

Save Our City

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The second planning meeting of the Stop Ferguson’s Cuts and Save Our City Campaign is Wednesday 4th December, 7pm, at Tony Benn House, Victoria Street, BS1 6AY.

All the local government unions, Trades Council, Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance, the People’s Assembly, Unite the Resistance and Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts were all represented at the first meeting and we hope to maintain a strong and united campaign leading up to our planned demonstration in January and the council vote.Main items for discussion are union reports, the petition, leaflets/ posters, report from the ‘consultation meetings’, the demonstration, writing to councillors, stunts & direct action, press & media, Facebook & website, finance, future meetings.

The mayor will also be personally attending these four public consultation meetings on the budget:Tuesday 26th November – demo outside from 5.45pm – meeting (booking required) 6.30pm to 7.30pm – Henbury School, Station Road, Henbury, Bristol, BS10 7QH To book:

Wednesday 27th November – demo outside from 5.45pm – meeting (booking required) 6.30pm to 7.30pm – The Park Centre, Daventry Road, Filwood, Bristol BS4 1DQ To book:

Thursday 28th November – demo outside from 6.15pm – meeting (booking required) 7pm to 8pm – City Hall (Council House), College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR To book:

Friday 29th November – demo outside from 6.15pm – meeting (booking required) 7pm to 8pm – Bristol Brunel Academy, Speedwell Road, Speedwell, Bristol BS15 1NU To book:

Then on Tuesday 3rd December is another of Ferguson’s “aimed at residents rather than political or pressure groups” Question Times this time at Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ – demo outside from 6.15pm – meeting (booking required) 7pm To book:

And finally there is Cabinet Meeting on Thursday 5th December at 6.30pm (venue TBC)

Still the Enemy Within

 Enemy within TU Motion new

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Please support this new film venture to record and celebrate the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984/85. We hope to arrange a public showing of the film in Bristol in the New Year. Attached is a model motion for trade union branches.

In 1984, Margaret Thatcher labelled 160,000 striking miners, their families and supporters, ‘The Enemy Within’. It was to be the longest national industrial dispute in British history. As the strike began, a group of miners emerged who were prepared to fight on the front line of every major battle.

Dubbed ‘Arthur’s Army’, they were to lead a fight-back that would not just rock the government but would change British society forever… Still the Enemy Within uncovers the hidden story of these remarkable people and their role in The Great Miners’ Strike of 1984 – 85.

Thirty years on, we catch up those who fought on the front line. Many of them have never spoken on camera before. Their stories are often funny, occasionally tragic but ultimately inspiring. Through their eyes we look back at a country at war, and the ordinary men and women who were forced to step on to the stage of history to fight for their communities.

Campaign Against Ferguson’s Cuts Begins

Stop Ferguson’s Cuts
A 50 strong meeting on Wednesday night took the first steps in the campaign to defeat George Ferguson in his attempt to destroy old peoples’ and childrens’ services in Bristol, to cut back on library and leisure facilities, and to ‘shed’ 800 jobs. The meeting, called jointly by BADACA, Bristol Peoples Assembly and Bristol Unite the Resistance, heard first from Steve Mills, branch secretary of Bristol City Unison and also representatives from GMB and Unite in the council. Details of the cuts are here.
A series of consultation meetings is taking place around the city (see earlier posting) at which campaigners will be present. Activists from the floor argued the need for cross-union workplace meetings (open to union members and non-members alike) as a first step in preparing a response within the council workforce. This can be combined with a petition against the cuts aimed at service users and members of the public (such as the Libraries petition in the South Glouc. dispute which received thousands of supporting signatures of collected by the striking librarians).
Campaigners also suggested that a demonstration against the cuts should be held in the city early sometime in the New Year. A further open meeting of the campaign grouping will be held in two weeks time (details to be confirmed).
South West Firefighters
The FBU in the South West has produced a strike newsletter. A new ballot is taking place to extend strike action.