Pledge to vote for public services


UKIP to be shut out of unions hustings

Just come back from a Southend Against The Cuts meeting. This was pretty well attended. This organisation brings together those who are broadly opposed to the austerity regime of the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government. It would be fair to say it has a fair mix of views, and a number of political parties are represented. Labour usually has the most representatives in attendance, but there are a smattering of Greens, Communists, and Socialist Workers Party activists as well. I do not know everyone’s allegiance, but I know most. It is a broad alliance of trade unionists (mostly) who want to change the Government’s direction, if not a change of Government.

Tonight a number of decisions were made.

There will be a hustings arranged for the week commencing April 20th. The exact date and venue has yet to be set, but a start time of 7.30pm is almost certain.

There will be one representative from each of the parties contesting the General Election in the two Southend constituencies; well, almost. There was a bit of a debate over whether UKIP should be invited to attend.

I thought UKIP should be invited. Unfortunately I was heavily out-voted and they will not be asked to attend. Whilst I respect the democratic decision (it was carried on a decisive show of hands) I am still convinced it was the wrong decision.

Those present felt that UKIP’s anti-union policies ruled them out. Having unfriendly policies should not exclude anyone from a public debate, not in my opinion anyway. I can understand a no platform policy for parties like the BNP, NF and English Democrats, but despite my view of UKIP’s policies I can see there is some daylight between what they stand for and fascism.

Hustings organisers are free to include or exclude who they want; I am not sure how this decision will encourage the undecided along. I am very supportive of trade unions, I belong to one myself. The debate was not acrimonious, not at all. However, I am keen to ensure that this is not seen as a decision endorsed by me. I repeat, I am still convinced it was a mistake. At our next meeting I will ask for this decision to be reconsidered.

There is going to be a May Day celebration on May 2nd (Saturday), with a stall of some sorts at the north end of Southend’s High Street. Southend Against The Cuts annual general meeting will be held after the General Election, and is likely to combined with a public meeting of some sorts (possibly examining what the election results means for trade unionists). There is also going to be some leafleting on Saturdays in the High Street, with an emphasis on the future of the National Health Service.



A march, on Saturday


Britain needs a pay rise



It has been a long time since I have been on strike. I cannot give a precise date, but it is something of the order of thirty years, maybe a little less but not much less. I last struck when still a civil servant and I cannot actually recall what the argument was about. In total, during my twelve and a half years employed by HM Customs and Excise I think it was about a handful of days of industrial action that I participated in. In those days we were up against a Prime Minister who really did not like the trades unions or the public sector and was intent on trouble. Not that the unions were entirely blameless, but Mrs Thatcher was certainly spoiling for a fight.

That I have not been on strike since is down to my work environment since; information technology departments are generally well looked after. However, I am pleased to report that I have yet to cross a picket line, and have been on many a march.

Striking is an important tool for ordinary people and serves two basic functions. Firstly, the withdrawal of labour lets employers know that their workforce is dissatisfied. It also informs the wider community – strikes are usually highly visible. Strike days are not holidays. Aside from the loss of income (and pension) those who value their work do not enjoy disruption. My experience teaches me that it is always a last resort.

Politicians are often in a strange place when it comes to striking in the public sector, not least because they are often the employer. However, whether an individual piece of industrial action is supportable or not, the right to strike is fundamental; Conservative plans to further limit union power is wrong.

Nellie Walker, showing solidarity

Nellie Walker, showing solidarity

Yesterday’s industrial action by public sector workers comes after four years of falling living standards, four years in which incomes have barely (if at all) risen. These same four years have seen an 11% average rise in the cost of running a car, 16% rise in the cost of food, 22% average electricity bill rises, and 57% average rises in gas bills. This is accompanied by job losses and reductions in public services. It is little wonder that they are fed up and angry.

My daughter, and granddaughter, took part in yesterday’s rally in Southend-on-Sea, and Eilise had to field a number of inquiries as to my absence from the event. There is a straightforward answer to that one, and that is that I do not work in the public sector and so was not on strike. I was working in Basildon yesterday.

For the record, I belong to Unite the Union, am Treasurer of Southend Against The Cuts, and am the Trade Union Liaison Officer for the Southend Labour Parties Local Campaign Forum.

Have ego, will email

Email exchanges between Southend-on-Sea’s councillors are mostly mundane. Only occasionally do they titillate.

One Independent member of the Executive chose to include the following in an email to all councillors today: There have been two pre- application presentations in the last two weeks, the amount of interest and attendance by Members has been in my opinion appalling.

I did not go to the first of these (I do not have a note of it, but I assume I was busy elsewhere). Quite often I am double booked, and I cannot be the only one. I did go to the second, last night’s pre-planning presentation on the plans for the old college site in Carnarvon Road. I made a note of who was there: four Labour members, three Liberal Democrats, two from UKIP, two from the Independent Group, and one Conservative.

I can only presume that said Executive member is having a swipe at the Conservatives and his own group as the other three groups had about half their members present. I should add that many of us specialise, and therefore elect to attend presentations that reflect these specialisms.

The Executive member’s email did give another member the opportunity to query part of their email sign-off; they styled themselves ‘Chair, Independent Group Committee’. The Executive member was reluctant to fully explain, a reluctance that is puzzling.

Anyone wanting to see the email sign-off for themselves are advised to email

Said Executive member also added this: Hopefully, the new presentation for the Fossetts Farm Development tomorrow evening will be better attended.

I will not be going to this presentation, or conducting any council business unless there is an emergency. This is because of the industrial action being taken by public sector workers. They are sacrificing a day’s pay, and the least I can do is respect picket lines, both physical and electronic.


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