Archive for June, 2011

Chester J30 strike rally draws crowds. June 30th. Strike Action.

Cheshire West Against the Cuts. Strike Rally. Town Hall Square. Picture Frances Laing.

At least three hundred people were a constant outside Chester Town Hall this afternoon – in attendance at the strike rally, organised by Cheshire West Against the Cuts and supported by the Trades Council.

Banners in evidence included NUT, PCS, UNISON, FBU, CWU and UCU.

Chester Town Hall Strikes rally. J30. Picture by Frances Laing.

Assembling for the Cheshire West Against the Cuts Rally to support the strike. Chester Town Hall. 30th. June. Picture by Frances Laing.

Chester strike pickets shut down DVLA office and Job Centres.

Early morning sees J30 Strike action unfold across Chester city centre as offices and schools remain closed. Picture Frances Laing.

The Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) offices in Chester were shut down from early this morning due to strike action. Local grass roots support was solidly in evidence – I was told the postman didn’t cross the picket line.

Strikers and those in solidarity including NUT members and supporters from the general public will rally on Chester Town Square at 12.30 p.m. see map under the Cheshire West Against the Cuts coalition umbrella. The rally is the first of it’s kind for twenty years. Children, teachers, carers, parents and grandparents will be gathering there too – together with people with disabilities, their communities and families – those campaigning to save the NHS and turn the tide on the devastating cuts to disability and welfare benefits  (see previous post).

Most schools in Cheshire are closing due to NUT strike action. 

PCS picket shuts down DVLA offices Chester. Picture by Frances Laing.

All 17 PCS members went on strike at the DVLA offices with a focus on the pensions issue. In concrete terms one employee told me government proposals would mean she would be paying £45 a month more for her pension and that she would have to work longer – to get it – an extra eight years.

 The last time PCS members went on strike at this DVLA office in March of last year – the dispute on the civil service compensation scheme  ended in a High Court Action which changed the law. 
 
 Meanwhile across town at the Job Centre near Chester Railway Station – PCS members manned another early morning picket (see picture below).
 

PCS strike Job Centre Chester. Picture Frances Laing.

 Cheshire West Against the Cuts rally meet in Chester Town Centre from 12.30. Children, families, parents, teachers, grandparents, neighbours, carers – those with paid work and without – ALL welcome.
For a map see this link:
 
 
 
 
 

Government struggles to defend pensions stance. Strike June 30. J30

On the Today programme the government appears to be struggling to defend it’s current stance on pensions. Listen to the discussion at this link:

Are public sector pensions affordable?

(Long) list of Cheshire and Vale Royal schools closing in industrial action

Cheshire West and Cheshire Council has helpfully compiled a list of schools due to close in the J30 Strike. Interestingly – many more than the thirteen cited in the local Evening Leader. Find the updated list at this link: Cheshire Schools close in industrial action J30.

See also: Evening Leader: Strike Chaos to hit city schools.

Save our welfare state! Cheshire West Against the Cuts.

The following hot-off-the-press flier text of interest to people with and without disabilities, families with disabilities/children with disabilities who may be joining with others in support of the strike action this Thursday. The writer Richard Atkinson works full-time –  has multiple sclerosis and offers some answers to the question: “Why is it important for disabled people, their families and friends to support and be supported by the nationwide rallies on Thursday?” – (Town Hall Chester 12.30 p.m. and DVLA office picket 8.00 a.m see map) Richard’s initial copy (which may be updated as new information comes to light) follows here:

“CHESHIRE WEST AGAINST THE CUTS – SAVE OUR WELFARE STATE!

 The Coalition government is systematically dismantling our welfare state. Since 1948 everyone has assumed that help and support would be available for the elderly and for disabled people, for people who become sick or disabled for children and for people who become unemployed. The new welfare state was rightly heralded as An End to Fear – basic security for all in return for national insurance payments. 

By 2014 all this will be gone. The only help and support available will be:

  • strictly means tested
  • strictly policed, with spot fines for any errors you make in your claim, privatised medical assessments imposing impossible criteria and privatised ‘work for your benefit’ programmes
  • at much lower levels than at present in many cases, especially for the most severely disabled and for people in work. 

From April 2011 levels of tax credits for families and disabled people in low paid work have been cut back – with more to come. Housing Benefit, for rent, and help with mortgage interest payments having also been cut back making decent housing unaffordable for many. 

From April 2012 hundreds of thousands of people who were forced to leave work by long term health conditions will lose all their benefit payments (incapacity benefit and contributory employment support allowance). People with a working partner or with any other significant income or savings will get no  extra help after their first 12 months illness.  

From April 2013 disabled people claiming Disability Living Allowance will face privatised medical assessments (by ATOS) applying new criteria which will offer help only with very basic functions like dressing and eating.  Even people who are blind, deaf or paralysed will qualify for reduced, if any, help. 

Even emergency payments (crisis loans) and payments to people leaving residential care (community care grants) are being abolished. 

All that will be left is a miserly system, administered distantly without human contact, and working on the assumption that anyone who tries to claim state benefits is a potential criminal. And tens of thousands of jobs in the present system are under threat. Overall, the coalition government is planning to reduce expenditure on benefits and tax credits for people aged 16-65 by over one-fifth by 2014. 

Meanwhile the rich grow richer: top executive pay and bankers’ bonuses are rising without restriction, companies get away with billion pound tax dodges.

COPY ENDS. Written by Richard Atkinson in an individual capacity.

For more information on the Cheshire West Against the Cuts Coalition – which includes people in paid work and out, trades union members, parents, members of political parties and none –  join the cheshire west against the cuts facebook group.

Update: for further analysis of what is happening in the special needs jungle right now – check out Guerilla Mum’s blog at this link: http://guerrillamum.wordpress.com/

June 30th. Strike Action closes schools in Cheshire. J30.

June 30th. Strike action closes schools in Cheshire. Picture Frances Laing.

Note in our school bag yesterday confirming our school will be closing next week for the June 30th. NUT strike action. Many parents will be supporting the strike and there are already offers to take tea and flapjacks along to local pickets.

There will also be a rally in Chester Town Centre, supported by Chester Trades Council and Cheshire West Against the Cuts. The extent of strike, picket and occupation action across the U.K. is being mapped on the J30 strike site see this link: http://www.j30strike.org/

 Updates on the Cheshire West Against the Cuts Facebook Group.
 
 
 
 

West Cheshire College closes nursery

The Chester and District Standard front page  today featured a story on “Parent’s nursery closure  fury”. According to the Standard “Bosses at West Cheshire College have confirmed the ABC nursery in Handbridge will cease to exist in July. The Ellesmere Port campus closed on Friday”. Some 80 families have been affected.

Local parents said: “There was no letter, no notice or anything”. Mum Gretta a social work student is quoted as saying: “(My son) is really upset – he has lost all of his friends and I don’t have contact details for anyone to see where they are taking their children…now not only do I have research proposals to get on with, but I’ve got to find a new nursery and sort out where my student finance is going to. It’s a nightmare”.