Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Fairer Society - Letter to Weston Mercury

An edited version of this letter was published in today's Weston Mercury:

I was saddened to read the letter from Esme Heal informing us that only 2 of the 11 residents who were moved from Poppyfields Dementia Care Home when it was closed are still alive. And in a separate article, the National Housing Federation’s claim that the cuts to Supporting People funding in North Somerset are the second largest in the South West, after Cornwall. This funding is used to support the most vulnerable people in our society including the elderly, people with physical and learning disabilities, people with mental health issues, homeless people and people fleeing domestic abuse.

I really think it’s time for us to decide what sort of society we want to live in? Do we want to live in a society where we give our most vulnerable people the ability to live their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve, or do we want to provide them with the lowest level of care for the least amount of money? Why is it acceptable in our society for our state pension to be under the poverty level? Why is it acceptable that wages are so low that many people have to have more than 1 job to survive? Why is it also acceptable in our society for some people to “earn” so much money that they don’t know what to do with it. We live in a country where the gap between the richest and the poorest is the second largest in the developed world, with only the U.S.A. ahead of us.

There is another way and we really need to choose it soon. We need to close the gap between rich and poor and distribute wealth more evenly through a fairer taxation system and clamping down on tax avoidance. We need to turn the minimum wage into a living wage, and ensure all our senior citizens live above the poverty level. We need to stop believing the lie we have been fed that we can pay low taxes and still get good services – the next 4 years will show that this isn’t the case. We need to realise that paying taxes allows investment in public services to support our most vulnerable citizens, and which ultimately benefits all of us. We will all be old one day, we may become disabled or homeless, we may suffer mental ill health or domestic abuse. When that happens to us, or members of our families, we will need our public services. But if we’re not very careful they will be gone. The former residents of Poppyfields were, and are, of the generation who fought so hard to create the welfare state, including its greatest achievement – our National Health Service, which is now under threat. As their descendants we must do all we can to protect their legacy to us.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Save the Money Advice Centre

The Money Advice Centre (MAC) on the Bournville Estate in Weston super Mare is to be closed in August this year because of funding cuts. It is a direct result of the Coalition Government's massive cuts to public spending, and will impact on the most vulnerable people in our society.

It was originallly opened in December 2006 and is situated in one of the most deprived areas of the country, where there are high levels of people claiming disability benefits, high unemployment and low incomes.

The MAC is jointly run by the Citizens Advice Bureau and Weston Credit Union, with funding from NS Housing. It offers advice to local people on benefits and debt.

If you have used the MAC and don't want it to close then please write to NS Housing to tell them how the MAC has helped you. You could also write to the local press, your councillor and your MP to tell them what the MAC has done for you, and why you don't want it to close.

Keep Your MAC for a Rainy Day.

Monday, 18 April 2011

North Somerset UNISON branch banner in Ed Hall exhibition in Manchester

If you're going to be in Manchester at any point between 14th May and 30th October check out Ed Hall's exhibition of trade union banners at the People's History Museum - North Somerset UNISON's banner is one of the exhibits - although we have reserved the right to borrow it from them for any protests we may need it for during the next 6 months.

Save our NHS Petition

The government is proposing plans to break up and privatise our NHS. We all know that the NHS is a vital public service that provides free health care to millions of people, and that it needs to be protected. Together we can make the government change its mind about these plans.

I've signed a petition to stop the government from privatising our NHS. The more of us who take part, the stronger the message will be - click here to sign the petition

Monday, 11 April 2011

Vote against the Cuts on 5th May

At the local elections on 5th May make sure the councillors you're voting to elect voted against the £18.5 million of cuts which North Somerset Council are now starting to make.

When they come canvassing on your doorstep ask them where they stand on public sector spending cuts.

When North Somerset Council voted to approve £18.5 million of cuts, only the Green party, Labour party, Liberal Democrat party and a few Independents voted against the cuts.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Stop the Privatisation of our NHS

UNISON held its annual Health Conference this week in Liverpool. Delegates debated a number of motions including how we are going to campaign against:

  • Tory plans to privatise our National Health Service
  • The attacks on Agenda for Change terms and conditions
  • The Pay Freeze
  • The attacks on our Pensions

Delegates got to see the Andrew Lansley Rap, and a message from Michael Moore on a giant screen.

Guest speakers included our General Secretary Dave Prentis, the inspirational Reyna Wong and Scott Schumacker from the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), and Kevin Callinan, Deputy General Secretary of the Irish public services union IMPACT.

Conference got the opportunity to question the Shadow Health Secretary John Healey on what he would do differently with the NHS - he managed to avoid answering most of the questions.

Fringe meetings included: The campaign to stop the privatisation of the National Blood and Transplant Service, and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign - Public Healthcare for all.

Conference also heard a panel debate on the Future of the NHS, chaired by Michael White, with Karen Jennings (UNISON), Laurence Buckman (BMA) and Roy Lilley.

Delegates also took part in a rally to defend our NHS, where Dave Prentis was one of a number of speakers.