Good Bye from York Stop the Cuts

After a period of online discussion and a final meeting, York Stop the Cuts is coming to a close. In 3 years of existence, we have done a lot, but now is the time to stop and hand over to other groups and projects who will keep the spirit of the group alive whilst bringing in fresh energy. We want to emphasise that this is a positive move, allowing new activities to grow up in our place.

York Stop the Cuts has catalysed to the rejuvenation of York Trades Council and Food Not Bombs York (the folks who feed us on protests), and the formation of York’s Alternative History and York’s Housing Crisis, and played a role in building up York Welfare Campaign and Defend Our NHS York. But deeper than that, the group leaves in its absence a big network of people who remain connected and ready for action. When the EDL threatened York Mosque, many of those connections were in evidence among the familiar faces who showed up.

The small sum of money in our bank account is being passed forwards to York People’s Assembly to support their launch conference on Saturday 12th October. We invite everyone who has supported this group to support that event and the growing group behind it. We also want to highlight these groups for you to stay in touch with:

Monday 26th March: Mark Serwotka + Clare Solomon

Speakers and Discussion from 7pm, Monday 26th March at Friargate Friend’s Meeting House (map, Facebook event).

The anti-cuts movement stands on a potential turning point. On the one hand, the NHS privatisation bill has passed and many Unions have surrendered to pensions attacks. On the other, Osborne has released a budget that is being met with fury from public and media alike. People are beginning to realise that permanent austerity is a real threat.

Our key speakers for the night have both played pivotal national roles in the struggle against pensions cuts and tuition fee increases.

Mark Serwotka has been a key driver behind the ground breaking collective strike action in June and November last year. He’s a regular contributor to the BBC’s Question Time and Newsnight programs and a passionate and highly informed speaker.

Clare Solomon was President of the University of London Union during the 2010 student protests and has just returned from Greece, where she’s been learning about the struggle against austerity from local activists.

Plus local NUT, York College and other speakers, and chaired by York Unison’s Ben Drake.

The Andrew Lansley Masquerade Ball

** UPDATE **lansley in york

 

We’ve had our Masquerade Ball and it was truly a success, with the friendly security guards informing us that we could indeed be heard by the Tories dining inside the hall. So, for your pleasure, here are a couple of videos of what we got up to:

 

** Original Invitation **

In just over a week Andrew Lansley will be visiting York, speaking at a Conservative Party fundraising event. Of course we feel this is an excellent opportunity to let Mr Lansley & co. know how we feel about his plans for the NHS.

Here’s the details…

Name: The Andrew Lansley Masquerade Ball
Date/Time: Saturday 29th October, 7pm
Location: Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, Piccadilly

You are cordially invited to a Masquerade Ball in (dis-)honour of Mr Andrew Lansley CBE, the Minister for (and Chief Wrecker of) Health, who is visiting our fair city on the night of Saturday 29th October.

We would be delighted if you would join us in (mourning) celebrating the success of the Health and Social Care bill in decimating the National Health Service.

Entrées: Please supply snacks
Main Course: the NHS
Dress Code: Black tie/your finest evening attire and a mask of your choice*

Please present your good selves to Piccadilly for 7pm on Saturday 29th October, 2011. Your attendance will be warmly received (though maybe not by Mr Lansley).

* We recommend Tory Ministers, but any mask will do…

Going After ATOS

This Friday (30th September), York Welfare Campaign are holding a protest against welfare profiteers and creators of misery for thousands of disabled people ATOS Healthcare. ATOS hold the DWP’s contract to undertake the “Work Capability Assesment”, assessing every person claiming disability benefits to see if they can be forced into work, no matter how menial, ill suited or downright torturous the experience.

The protest will be held between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on St Sampson’s Square in the city centre (at the top end of Parliament Street). The primary aim is to inform the public and break through the media lies about disability benefit claimants and the treatment they are receiving from the government and contractors alike.

York Welfare Campaign was started by members of York Stop the Cuts concerned about issues directly facing people in York, especially the elderly, long term jobless and disabled. Future actions will include a lobby of the City Council over Elderly People’s Homes plans that could see private sector profiteering through PFI schemes and contracting out of services. The group is also preparing actions around the closure of the Acute Ward at Bootham Park Mental Hospital. The group will hold its next planning meeting at the Corner Pin on Tanner Row between Rougier Street and North Street from 7.30pm on Tuesday 4th October.

March on the Tory Conference

The Conservatives have decided to bring their annual champagne bash to Manchester, a city with a proud working class tradition and little support for their policies. In fact, with cuts disproportionately targeting the North of the England, its quite tactless. Lets make sure Cameron and Co head back to Westminster in no uncertainty about our determination to stop the policies they’re pursuing.

Keeping momentum going after the “March for the Alternative” six months earlier and June’s strike action, the TUC hope to bring over 50,000 people to Manchester to confront the Conservatives.  With another round of public sector strikes expected to follow on 30th November, plus student, disability and other campaigns gearing up, it’ll be a really key moment in building an Autumn of Dissent.

Our coaches will depart from the Memorial Gardens coach pick-up at the city centre end of Leeman Road, just around the corner from the train station. We set off at 10am and will aim to be back in York by 8pm. Please bring plenty of food and water. Our coaches have on-board toilets. Tickets are £12 and £8, plus a little extra for online bookings, which can be made at this site.

June 30th: Don’t be a silent supporter!

The coordinated strike of public sector workers will be a huge step up in resistance to this government’s plans. For those on strike, its important to do more than simply fail to show up for work: active striking means taking to the streets and being visible as a colletive. But we also know many workers are cross that their Union isn’t taing part. York Stop the Cuts invite you, with your whole family, to be part of the day regardless of what union, if any, you are in. The highlight of the day will be a rally and picnic on Parliament Street between 11.30 and 2pm, featuring speeches mixed with music and poetry for the whole family. Come for as much as your lunch break allows. This event is for everyone concerned about pension cuts.

Unions like UNISON and the NASUWT are talking about joining strikes in the Autumn. But we know many ordinary members of those unions want to take action on pensions now. Too much is at stake for this to be just about those on strike. York Stop the Cuts, with help from striking unions, are determined to make this a much wider “day of action”. We want everyone to feel a part of the protests being organised to show the government our united resolve.

Join a picket line before work – Give 5 minutes or an hour – most will start by 7.30am
Find PCS picket lines in Monkgate, Peaseholme Green, Stonebow and Piccadily, at Imphal Barracks (Fulford Road), Bacchus House (behind Hull Road B&Q) or UCU at York College.

Cycle tour of picket lines – meet 8.15am outside York “Explore” (Library)
Join a gentle mass-pedal through York’s streets to visit picket lines in the city centre till around 10am, then head out to York college to join the march. Join and leave as you like. Why not bring flags for bikes or food and drink to share with pickets?

March from York College – assemble 10.30am at Tadcaster Road entrance
March to defend pensions and public education, called by York College UCU. Everyone welcome – workers and students unite! Bring Union banners, placards and your marching shoes. Ends at Parliament Street Picnic/Rally.

March from DEFRA next to Black Swan, Peaseholme Green. Assemble at 11:00.
A shorter alternative to the above: called by PCS, everyone welcome to join in.

Altogether for pensions! Rally and Picnic in Parliament Street, 11:30 till 2pm
Speakers so far include PCS, College UCU, NUT and UNISON. ATL and York St John UCU to confirm. Plus college student, voluntary and private sector speakers. Music and poetry from members and friends of York Stop the Cuts. We want this to be a real celebration, a chance to meet, eat lunch and celebrate collective strength, open to all the family.

Stop the Cuts lobby of City of York first Full Council meeting from 4 to 7pm
The City Council meets to make decisions for the first time since the May Elections. Labour talk about rolling back a small slice of budget cuts, but many services will be left devastated. Open microphone – come have your say. Backed by York City UNISON.

Going all out for the 30th June

It might seem a long way off for some of us, but hopefully we’ll all live to draw our pensions – unless, of course, the government and banks do away with them first. On Thursday June 30th, 5 of Britain’s Public Sector Unions will be holding a 24hour “co-ordinated strike”, the biggest and widest such action in nearly a century. There is far more at stake than just the much-publicised pensions of high ranking civil servants: if employer-provided pensions for low waged public sector workers go, we can expect private sector pensions to be restricted to upper management, those already receiving the only truly “gold plated” pensions.

York Stop the Cuts will be helping people get involved, especially if they’re not on strike in the classic sense. We’re planning a “cycling picket”, a mass of cyclists moving between picket lines, delivering cake and coffee during the morning. It’ll be followed by a rally, picnic and other activities in Parliament Street from 12noon to 2pm – timed to allow workers to drop by in their break if they aren’t on strike. Other protests and meetings will take place during the day.

Pensions have been a huge issue in France, and after the summer, some of Britain’s biggest unions will be joining the struggle. But if we are to defend the right to a decent quality of life for all, this struggle cannot remain within the Unions.

Also coming up: there’ll be protests around the 13th July, the birthday of the NHS, and in September and October, we’ll be organising transport for the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.