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From North Wales Against Cuts:

 

Hundreds of trade unionists, workers, students and service users attended a demonstration in Bangor today where a march and rally against the cuts was taking place.

 

The demonstration was organised by North Wales Against Cuts Bangor in response to cuts to jobs and services locally and nationally.

 

The demonstrators were led through the streets by the excellent Batala Bangor band, a local samba-reggae percussion group.

 

 

During the march, many local people stood on the side of the road or came to their front doors to applaud the demonstrators, dance to the drums, and to take leaflets from the PCS union, which explained the alternatives to the vicious cuts. Some even joined the march itself!

 

Following the march there was a short rally near the clock on Bangor High Street, where demonstrators, shoppers and retail workers heard from a number of speakers, including local politicians, Ellie Mae O’Hagan – a local UK Uncut activist – and Robin Jones of the PCS union.

 

The demonstration was attended by young and old alike from across the region, with banners, flags and placards on display from a variety of trade unions and from campaign groups such as Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

 

North Wales Against Cuts Bangor organiser Jan Underwood said: “Cuts affect everyone, and the protest in Bangor showed North Wales values its libraries, hospitals, schools and help for the unemployed and disabled.

 

“There is no need for cuts. If the government closed loopholes that allow companies and rich individuals to avoid taxes there would be no need for them whatsoever.

 

“Following on from the London March for the Alternative last weekend, we must show the ConDem government that the UK as a whole will continue to keep the pressure on, to march for the alternative locally and stand up for equality for all.”

 

Robin Jones of the PCS union said: “Creating jobs will boost the economy and cut the deficit. Cutting jobs will damage the economy and increase the deficit.

 

“We should invest in areas such as housing, renewable energy and public transport and end the use of consultants.”

 

The demonstration was good natured and passed without incident, and illustrated the depth of anger, and the spirit of resistance being fostered, across the length and breadth of Wales and the UK to these unnecessary and ideological cuts.

 

You can watch a short ITV Wales news report here.

 

Pictures courtesy of Stillshooter.

 

 

 

 

From the Guardian:

 

United we must stand


We cannot have a pick ‘n’ mix approach to opposition to the cuts – our future is at stake


Mark Serwotka

 

The second half of 2010 has been marked by a fierce assault on public services from a government of millionaires. In response, a promising anti-cuts movement is emerging. But many people on the recent demonstrations are asking: where are the unions? I want 2011 to be the year where this question is answered definitively, with unions placing themselves firmly on the side of active and innovative campaigning.

 

The union movement today is different to that of the early 1980s – the last time we faced such an attack on the public sector and the welfare state. Membership is barely over half what it was, and anti-union laws constrain us. This is a reality, but does not fatally undermine the potential for resistance.

 

The UK has a higher trade union density and membership than France. And while some suggest there is something “un-British” about the French street mobilisations, the student protests and the high-street tax justice protests have challenged that. Direct action is being organised by a new generation of activists, radicalised by gross injustice.

 

We must not let this passion dissipate. Trade unionists live in households and communities with young people, with those on welfare, with pensioners, with people suffering in both the public and private sectors. I have consistently said not a single penny needs to be cut and not a single job should be lost. The cuts are not economically necessary; they are a political choice.

 

We need unity. This is obvious, but it becomes controversial when concrete proposals are made. To build unity, you cannot accept that someone else’s job is expendable or that someone else’s rights should be lost. Unity requires solidarity – whether for students, pensioners, welfare recipients, or for public or private sector workers. I do not want to see a pick’n’mix approach to our opposition to the cuts, between “good” cuts and “bad” ones. This position is backed up with an economic case, published in our pamphlet, There is an Alternative.

 

People are rightly aggrieved that while they work and pay taxes, many wealthy individuals and companies do not. The Treasury loses an estimated £120bn annually from tax evaded, avoided and uncollected. The fact that the tax justice campaign has moved to the streets is a reflection of the confidence that there is an alternative, and that these unfair cuts must be resisted.

 

This mood of resistance is essential if we are to see mass and co-ordinated industrial action. Legal barriers do confront unions, but in 2005, PCS with many other unions co-ordinated strike ballots over cuts in public sector pensions. Despite anti-union laws, the solidarity existed to work together.

 

In 2011 it seems public sector pension cuts might again be the issue around which trade unions unite, and both the NUT and UCU have already indicated they will consider balloting for strike action in the spring– and my own union has already written to the government to let it know its changes to members terms and conditions will not go unchallenged, legally or industrially.

 

Some will ask what we hope to achieve by going on strike. It’s simple: without it, the government won’t negotiate. This is an ideologically driven government committed to making working-class people pay for the crisis. The more of us that stand up against cuts, the more difficult the government will find it to do this.

If we want a future with fair pay, decent jobs, security in retirement and a welfare state, now is the moment for trade union members and everyone to shake off their chains and rise like lions.

 

Thanks to Stillshooter for the photo, which was taken at the Valuations office in Wrexham during last year’s civil service strikes.

 

 

From the Daily Post

 

North Wales MPs warn over post office privatisation


Dec 16 2010 by Our Correspondent, Daily Post

 

SENIOR North Wales MPs yesterday spoke out against the privatisation of the Royal Mail as part of a major protest against the UK Government plans.

 

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd and shadow business spokesman Ian Lucas both added their voices to the “Keep the Post Public” campaign.

 

The event was held as the legislation paving the way for the sell-off goes through Parliament.

 

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Mr Llwyd told a rally at Central Hall in Westminster that a recent poll put support for privatisation at just 15%.

 

“Plaid has raised concerns there will be a widespread programme of Post Offices closures – cutting back even further on those closed by the last government,” he said.

 

“We warned too that it will jeopardise the uniform tariff and universal service for letters which is so important for customers, especially small businesses and those in rural areas such as my constituents.

 

“I’m very concerned that these changes will lead to a deterioration of services, particularly for small businesses, domestic customers, vulnerable groups and communities.

 

“We cannot let this happen.”

 

Meanwhile Wrexham MP Mr Lucas said the coalition government’s proposals were opposed by Royal Mail staff.

 

“The Government has not taken forward Labour’s proposals for a ‘People’s Bank’ and there have also been reports the Department for Work and Pensions is considering taking a £20 million contract from the Post Office.

 

“The less business post offices have, the more they are threatened with closure.”

 

More than 200 Welsh post offices shut between 2007-09 alone, prompting a well-supported Daily Post campaign, and subpostmasters say they cannot afford to lose any more of their business.

 

But a spokesman for the Business Department said: “The biggest threat to postal services in the UK and to jobs at Royal Mail is to do nothing.

 

“The approach we are taking is based on hard facts and real evidence – the letters market is in structural decline, and Royal Mail is facing huge competition from e.mail and other forms of communication.”

 

After the rally hundreds of postal workers staged a sit-down protest outside Parliament, disrupting traffic.

 

Communication Workers Union general secretary Billy Hayes said: “If this legislation goes through it will mean the end of the postal service as we know it.

 

“Prices will skyrocket, the universal one-price-goes-anywhere service will be in jeopardy and post offices will close. If people think the weather has been bad for deliveries, you’ve not seen anything if the Government gets its way.”

 

This correspondent can’t help but wonder where Wrexham MP Ian Lucas’ protests were when it was Mandelson and a Labour government seeking to privatise the postal service.

 

He certainly wasn’t one of the 67 Labour MP’s who signed an early day motion rejecting the unelected former Business Secretary’s plans to privatise Royal Mail back in January 2009.

 

Nonetheless, everybody should get behind the CWU’s excellent Keep The Post Public campaign.

 

 

From the Guardian

 

Unions warn of massive wave of strikes


Unite general secretary Len McCluskey vows to work with students to fight government’s austerity agenda

 

Matthew Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 December 2010 21.00 GMT

 

The UK faces the prospect of widespread and co-ordinated industrial action in the new year, with the leader of the largest trade union today warning that it is “preparing for battle” with the government over its “unprecedented assault” on the welfare state.

 

Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Unite, says union leaders will be holding a special meeting in January to discuss a “broad strike movement” to stop what he described as the coalition’s “explicitly ideological” programme of cuts. Writing in the Guardian, McCluskey praises the “magnificent student movement” that has seen tens of thousands of young people take to the streets to protest at the government’s plans for post-16 education, saying it has put trade unions“on the spot”.

 

“Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach,” he said.

 

McCluskey, elected Unite general secretary last month, said trade unions had to work with students to build a wider anti-cuts campaign: “The magnificent students’ movement needs urgently to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped.

 

“While it is easy to dismiss ‘general strike now’ rhetoric from the usual quarters, we have to be preparing for battle,” he said. “It is our responsibility not just to our members but to the wider society that we defend our welfare state and our industrial future against this unprecedented assault.”

 

The Unite leader’s intervention comes as the prime minister is preparing for a key meeting with union leaders today. David Cameron has invited leaders of the biggest unions in the country as well as the TUC for Downing Street talks, although a spokesman for No 10 would not confirm this last night.

 

McCluskey is believed to be among those invited, but in a hard-hitting intervention in today’s Guardian that puts Unite and its members at the forefront of the anti-cuts campaign he:

 

• Praised Ed Miliband for drawing a line under the party’s Blairite past but called for a clearer alternative to the coalition’s “austerity frenzy”.

 

• Said student protesters have been treated as the “enemy within” in a similar way to trade union activists on picket lines in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

• Criticised police tactics of “kettling, batoning and mounted charges” on recent demonstrations.

 

• Said the trade union movement must not be paralysed by “anti-union laws” introduced in the 1980s.

 

• Called for a rebuilding of confidence in working-class communities that are likely to be the hardest hit by the government’s plans.

 

• Accused the Tories of whipping up “austerity frenzy” in an attempt to complete “Thatcherism’s unfinished business”.

 

McCluskey’s comments come amid a growing anti-cuts movement in the UK and across Europe, with strikes taking place in France, Spain and Greece.

 

In the UK this weekend protesters against corporate tax avoidancestaged demonstrations in more than 50 towns and cities – under the banner of online campaign group UKuncut – arguing a government clampdown could bring in an extra £25bn in tax, greatly reducing the need for spending cuts.

 

Student leaders, who have organised four national demonstrations and scores of sit-ins to protest about the rise in tuition fees and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, are already preparing a fresh wave of protests and demonstrations in the new year.

 

McCluskey said the meeting in January had been organised by the TUC and would be attended by leaders of the UK’s main unions. He said one of the first tasks was to “reach out” to the student protesters.

 

“Students have to know that we are on their side. We must unequivocally condemn the behaviour of the police on the recent demonstrations. Kettling, batoning and mounted charges against teenagers have no place in our society.”

 

Police arrested more than 180 people during the recent wave of protests and released more images today of protesters from 9 December who are suspected of disorder. Last week the home secretary, Theresa May, condemned the violence saw protesters and police injured, and blamed an “organised group of hardcore activists and street gangs”.

 

However, McCluskey said: “It is ironic that young people have been dismissed as apathetic and uninterested in politics – yet as soon as they turn out in numbers they are treated as the ‘enemy within’ in a way instantly familiar to those of us who spent the 1970s and 1980s on picket lines.”

 

Unite has signed up to the Coalition of Resistance campaign group which brings together unions with local anti-cuts campaigns across the country, he said, adding that the challenge was now to persuade people that there is an alternative to the cuts.

 

“Unless people are convinced not just that they are hurting – not hard to do – but also that there is a coherent alternative to the Cameron-Clegg class-war austerity, then getting millions into action will remain a pipe dream.”

 

He praised Ed Miliband for “drawing a line under the party’s Blairite past”, but called for a clearer dividing line between Labour and the government based on a “positive growth and tax justice programme” to tackle the deficit.

 

“A key part [of the alternative] must be a rejection of the need for cuts. ‘What do we want? Fewer cuts later on’, is not a slogan to set the blood coursing.”McCluskey said the TUC’s national demonstration on 26 March would be a “critical landmark” in the campaign against the government’s plans.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, was a national day of action against corporate tax dodgers, such as the owner of clothing retailer Arcadia group and government adviser Philip Green, who channels his vast income through his tax exile wife, and Vodafone, which avoided a £6 billion tax bill with the agreement of the UK government. Whilst working class people are being forced to pay for a crisis not of their making through vicious cuts and job losses, this government – and the previous government – have been happy to allow the rich to swerve their taxes, leading to a tax gap of £120 billion per year, according to prominent tax expert Richard Murphy.

 

In Wrexham, North Wales Shop Stewards Network, Wrexham Socialist Party and North Wales Against Cuts called a protest against Vodafone under the UK Uncut banner. Heavy snow meant many who planned to attend were unable to make it, but nonetheless a dozen hardy souls arrived at around 11am and assembled outside of the Vodafone shop on Regent Street. The store manager was aware of the protest and had a security guard ready to lock the door – unfortunately leaving at least three customers stuck inside.

 

We were able to pass letters to the workers inside, to explain that our protest was not against them but against their bosses and the government. The police attended but, following a good natured discussion, they accepted our right to protest peacefully.

 

We managed to close the Vodafone shop for several hours, and the thousands of Christmas shoppers on the streets of Wrexham were extremely supportive of the protest. We intend to continue to campaign against corporate tax dodgers over the coming months, so if you live locally then please come along and get involved!

 

Unite press release

 

Production canned as 1200 Heinz workers set to walk out for 24 hours

 

15 December 2010

 

Fair pay strike to begin at 21:50 tonight


Nearly 1200 Heinz workers will stop production at the food giant Heinz’s flagship UK plant near Wigan just before 10pm (tonight) in protest at the lousy pay deal on offer from the vastly profitable company.

 

Despite weeks of effort by the workers’ union, Unite, to get the company to improve on their two year below inflation offer, Heinz’s refusal to budge means that strike action looks inevitable.

 

Discontinuous strike action will begin, today, Wednesday, 15 December at 21:50 hours and continue until Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 21:50 hours. This is in addition to the continuous action involving a ban on overtime and workers adhering strictly to their contracts, which began yesterday, Tuesday, 14 December.

 

The Kitt Green stoppage is expected to mean approximately two million fewer cans of meal-time favourites such as Heinz tinned beans and soups will be produced during every day of the dispute.

 

Calling on Heinz’s management to see sense, Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said: “Yesterday we had absolute proof that living in this country is getting more expensive. Inflation leapt by 4.7 percent, fuel is staggeringly expensive but hard to sacrifice during this harsh winter and with the VAT rise coming around the corner in the New Year, it is getting extremely difficult to make ends meet.

 

“But Heinz is rolling in cash – its margins climbed to 37 percent last year, more than good enough for them to continue to give massive rewards to shareholders and senior executives. They are simply using this economic downturn to squeeze more from a loyal workforce.

 

“This tight-fistedness will backfire. The size of the vote in favour of taking action to defend their wages shows the strength of feeling. This workforce is determined to be treated with the respect they have earned.”

 

Action by the workers is expected to be well supported as around 90 percent of workers who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action, with over 95 percent for action short of strike – a clear rejection of the company’s 3.3 percent pay offer this year followedby a capped 3 percent for next year.

 

Unite says that further strike action may soon be announced for next week and over the Christmas period. The union however reiterated to Heinz’s management that the situation could still be retrieved through talks.

 

Media are reminded that there will be a photo opportunity with the workforce on Thursday morning. A colossal plate of beans and toast will spell out the call for fair pay.

 

* When: 7.30 am – 8.30 am, Thursday, 16 December 2010

 

* Where: H J Heinz Co Ltd, Walthew Lane, Kitt Green, Wigan, WN5 0JL

 

Ends

 

For further information please contact Ian Wright 07716 75488 or Jennie Formby on 07702 206436.


 

Make the Tax Dodgers pay!

 

http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/

http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/93

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175434809143074

 

Assemble at the arch way opposite the Horse and Jockey pub, Regent Street, Wrexham, at 11 am for a peaceful action.

 

From UK Uncut:

Over the past few months, protesters have staged sit ins, performance interventions, pickets, flash mobssuperglue stick-ons and intrepid one-woman protests against tax dodgers across the country.

Saturday December 18th is Pay Day, our next day of mass action. One week before Christmas, thousands of people across the country will be hitting the high streets to make sure tax dodgers pay.

Once again we will be targeting the multi-national and the multi-billionaire, Vodafone and Sir Philip Green. Both have been shaken up by the protests so far, but on December 18th they will face protests on a scale they could not have imagined just a few months ago. Vodafone and Arcadia will be targeted on every major high street in the UK. It’s up to you to make it happen.

Tell all your friends, family and colleagues. Come up with creative protest ideas. Start planning. Use our action centre to organise or join an action near you.

If you’re angry that the government is cutting services for the poorest and most vulnerable whilst letting the rich avoid billions in tax, then please join us, even if you have never been on a protest before.

 

This event is supported by North Wales Against Cuts, North Wales Shop Stewards Network, Wrexham Socialist Party, Wrexham Anti-Racist Network and others. See you there!

 


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