Down at the picket line with the UCU

On a bright cold morning outside Aston University campus, members of the University and College Union formed a picket line in defense of their pensions. They were joined by local activists and supporters, all angry at the bosses who are trying to force the UCU members to pay the price for failures caused by capitalism. Despite the cold weather, around 100 members and supporters joined the picket line, including members of our group, South Birmingham Momentum. We spoke to those on the front line.

Graeme, a UCU rep, explained that the cause of the dispute was the bosses attempts to change the final pensions scheme entirely. He said that the proposed switch from a defined benefits system to a defined contributions system would cost the average lecturer around £10,000 a year. This is, quite simply, a wage cut. Pensions are not a bonus, nor an added extra. They are deferred wages that should allow workers to retire without financial worry. A defined benefits system means that workers pay into a pension pot and know what they will be getting in retirement. A defined contributions system is where workers pay into a pension pot and don’t know what they will be getting in retirement. Workers are being told to gamble with their future, taking on more of the risks from their pension investments. In Aston, 68% of UCU members turned out to vote in the ballot, smashing the 50% threshold that the Tory government introduced during their last round of anti-worker, union-bashing legislation. Of these, over 89%, voted in favour of strike action, just slightly higher than the national figure of 88%. Across at the University of Birmingham, the ballot returned a result of over 84% of members in favour of strike action. Annoyingly, this was on a turnout of 48% – 2% below the government threshold – meaning that they were not able to strike. Apply this same “threshold” to the council elections this coming May…….. we would never elect a council, and barely a Tory one. But, the working-class knows only too well: its one rule for the capitalist class, and a completely different set of rules for the rest of us. But, the huge support across the country shows that workers are not taking this lying down, and are determined to win this dispute.

Christina, a reader in Psychology, said that slashing pensions will worsen the quality of Further and Higher education. Bosses must pay reasonable pensions – which, we must remember, are deferred wages – for the fantastic work that is done. Instead, bosses want to reduce their own contribution and increase the worker’s contribution. As the UCU leaflet slightly understated: “University employers want to end guaranteed pensions and reduce retirement income for all.” Eventually employers will want to get rid of retirement income altogether and their friends in Parliament, who support the political ideas of the ruling class, will bend over backwards to help them achieve this by forcing workers to accept rotten pension schemes or, as has happened before, by increasing the retirement age. Workers need to stand up to this attack on there livelihoods before we get to this situation. Bosses are always looking for ways to make more profits by exploiting the workforce. We should always be fighting for better terms. As the late, great Bob Crow would remind us of the slogan of the RMT – “NEVER ON OUR KNEES!”

Given the huge support for the strike action, the workers are in a powerful position and the bosses would be wise to get back to the negotiating table and withdraw these attacks on the UCU members. There are a total of fourteen days of strike action planned, with two pauses in between, giving the bosses the opportunity to rip up their own proposals and halt the mayhem that this action will, no doubt, bring.

Dates for future activities are available on the UCU website – the next one is on Monday 26/02/2018 from 730am outside Aston University campus. Momentum South Birmingham encourages as many of our members to wrap up warm and get down to show solidarity with our class.

If you are in the Labour Party but you are not a member or a supporter of Momentum South Birmingham, please raise these important issues at your branch meetings and policy discussion groups (if you don’t know what these are, come to a Momentum South Birmingham branch meeting and we’ll make sure that your CLP starts having them!) and let’s show support for all workers who face savage attacks from the bosses. The Labour Party should be more than a talking shop about the problems of dog excrement, parking, and how difficult a decision it is to sack 120 refuse workers (a battle that the workers WON! VICTORY TO THE BIRMINGHAM BIN WORKERS!)

If you’re neither in the Labour Party or Momentum….. it’s about time you got involved.

Let’s defend ALL of our workers, ALL of the

time.

Join the Labour Party.

Join Momentum.

VICTORY TO THE UCU!

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Vote Garnham, Dar and Lansman

It’s the last few days of an absolutely crucial NEC ballot and we cannot forget what is at stake.

We have an historic opportunity to have a left, pro-democracy majority on the party’s ruling body. One that can oversee a serious overhaul of the party structures, and, you never know, pay some attention to a few of the issues in the West Midlands covered on the pages of this blog and on social media over the last few months.

Clearly, there were issues with the decision-making process that led to us having Rachel Garnham, Yasmine Dar and John Lansman (or as we like to call him in Birmingham, John Lemon) on the Momentum/CLGA slate. The candidacy of Lansman/Lemon in particular has been identified as the weak link by Labour First and Progress, who are backing the LF slate that dare not speak its name of Eddie Izzard, Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan.

Many of us would have been happy with those three if it had been put to the membership of Momentum and we had been offered a vote, so it was unfortunate that we didn’t have that vote or a way for grassroots views to feed into the decision-making process. Let’s hope it isn’t repeated next time round.

But we are where we are and the decision, in my mind, is a pretty straightforward one. Either the left will have a majority or Labour First/Progress will, and all the signs are that many of the people in those two organisations, who are not the same but are getting closer and closer the more desperate they get, have learnt nothing in the last couple of years, and many are still unreconciled to a Corbyn leadership, whatever they may say publicly. Just have a read through the recent Daily Mail article that focused heavily on Birmingham if you can stomach it and you will see the real agenda, which was about undermining the left in the NEC election. Or have a read through the Twitter feed of someone like Richard Angell, which makes you feel like you’re Alice, in Wonderland.    

We have seen in Birmingham what happens when these people have control and it isn’t pretty. A left majority will give us a chance to change things permanently for the better and give members the power over what happens – and right now a left majority will ensure that all members, whether on the right or left, pro- or anti-Corbyn, will have more rights and more of a say.  

The members know what they are doing and what is necessary, and the kind of party we need to have an historic, game-changingly successful Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn and not repeat some of the mistakes of the Blair/Brown years.

So please, if you haven’t already, vote Rachel Garnham, Yasmine Dar and John Lansman/Lemon!

Momentum South Birmingham newsletter 02 01 2018

Welcome to the latest Momentum South Birmingham newsletter – your unmissable weekly digest of all the interesting things going on politically in our area and beyond.

Welcome to the first edition of 2018. With the local elections just 4 months away you won’t be surprised to hear that campaigning is kicking off in many wards already and MSB members will be out in force. We were also out in force this morning for campaigning on rail fares across many stations on our patch – check out our social media to see some pictures of Labour members braving the cold to talk to the public about the issue and argue for renationalisation!

We have our first branch meeting of the year this Sunday and it looks like it’s going to be a busy one- we are planning on having a couple of speakers and it will be great to touch base and start talking about our plans for the upcoming year.

Also please don’t forget to cast your NEC ballot if you haven’t already – full details below!

Enjoy this week’s edition and if there is content you want featuring in future editions do drop us a line.

Next KONPB meeting – Jan 3rd
Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham do a huge amount of brilliant work and a number of Momentum activists are already involved in meetings and activity, but they are always in need of more help. For those who are interested in supporting and/or joining KONP and contributing to campaigns their contact details are btuchcc@hotmail.com.

Currently KONPB have campaigns on the proposed NHS “Transformation” plans (cuts and privatisation) in Brum/Solihull and Black Country; the privately-financed Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick (PFI/2) and have recently set up a ‘Mental Health Interest Group’, which is planning to do some more work on the mental health arrangements for young people 0-25 years in Birmingham – currently ‘red risk’.
Meetings are 1st Wednesday of every month (except August), so people can drop in any time at The Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN at 7:30pm. The next meeting is tomorrow, Wednesday the 3rd January.

They have also established a bank account if you want to make either regular (by standing order) or ‘one-off’ donations the money will be put to good use. KONP’s bank details, should you wish to make a bank transfer/set up a standing order (monthly or annually) the Co-Op Bank account number is 65823280 and the sort code is 08- 92-99. Please get involved in, and support, KONPB in any way you can!

Next MSB branch meeting: 7th January
Our first MSB meeting of the new year is this Sunday, the 7th January, 3pm, at the Highbury Pub in Stirchley (Dad’s Lane, Stirchley, Birmingham B13 8PQ).
Please join us to discuss many of the campaigns we are involved in and causes we are supporting and also the forthcoming local elections – campaigning will be starting very soon. We are planning on having several speakers from ongoing campaigns and workers disputes.
We are also once again welcoming anyone from Yardley CLP who wishes to join us.
The usual rules apply – you are welcome to join us as long as you aren’t a supporter of a party that isn’t Labour – and if we have any votes you’ll need to be a Momentum member to participate 😊
Hope to see you there!

‘Knights of the Raj’ exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: until 7th Jan 2018

Birmingham is home to hundreds of so-called Indian restaurants. However, many are unaware that it is the Bangladeshi community that pioneered this industry, laying the foundations for Britain’s ‘curry culture’. Soul City Arts, working in partnership with Future Seed CIC, have captured the untold stories of those pioneers, tracing the origins of the Birmingham curry trade back to the 1940s. This three-month long exhibition features rare photographs, unique artefacts, videos, interactive displays and oral histories that tell the fascinating story of the much-loved British Curry.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of Birmingham and Britain’s Indian restaurants. The exhibition runs at BM&AG until the 7th Jan 2018. More details here.

BCC Budget consultation, 10th Jan 2018.
Every year Birmingham City Council consults the people of the city about what the budget priorities are for the coming year. This takes the form of public meetings and an online consultation which you can access here. Usually there are a number of public meetings but sadly there is only one this year, which is desperately disappointing when the cuts are as savage as they are. It’s on Wednesday 10 January 2018, 6.00pm to 8.00pm in the Council House Victoria Square Birmingham B1 1BB. More information can be found here.

Sparkhill campaigning afternoon for Nicky Brennan – weekend of 13th and 14th January
As you will no doubt have spotted in previous editions one of our hardest working members, Nicky Brennan, is standing in Sparkhill for Labour I the forcoming local elections. Her first big campaigning event are leafletting sessions on Saturday 13th and Sunday the 14th January, both at 1pm.
• Saturday – meeting at the junction of Witton Road and Stoney Lane B12 8AJ
• Sunday – meeting at the junction of Formans Road and Knowle Road B11 3AW
Any questions please drop sparkhilllabour@gmail.com a line!

MSB campaigns and social/fundraising committees joint meeting – 17th January
The next Stalls/Campaigning and Social/Fundraising meeting will be held at 11am on Wednesday 17th January in Loco Lounge in Kings Heath. The two committees have again decided to join forces! All are welcome. They would love to hear feedback and suggestions for the year ahead as if it’s anything like the last couple of years it’s going to be another busy one!

Next MSB Book Club, 23rd Jan 2018
The MSB Book Club is now meeting (nearly) every month – they are having December off! However, the next meeting is already organised and it will be The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist on 23rd January 2018, at The Loco Lounge Kings Heath High Street, with a 7.30pm start.

BTUC meeting, Thurs 1st Feb: “The future of work in an age of rapid technological change – and how workers can take control of it.”

Technology is not a neutral force that can only go one way with the question being simply who benefits financially from the results of technological innovation. Values are embedded in technology and choices – and therefore the exercise of power is made at every point. The key questions therefore are can workers control the design of technology and the purposes for which it is designed? Does automation have to lead to the destruction of all jobs; the skilled, the useful as well as the boring, the degrading and the useless?
With these questions in mind, Hilary Wainwight will explore the options facing the labour movement over automation. She will draw on her experience of the Lucas Aerospace workers alternative plan for socially useful production, to suggest that with the prospect of a radical Labour Government committed to economic democracy, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the labour movement to wrest control over the future design and direction of technology from capital and subject it to democratic control to meet social need. Through this we could realise William Morris’ dream of ‘useful labour rather than useless toil’. But this will involve radical changes in the trade union movement so that it becomes an agent of social transformation rather than a defender of an increasingly precarious status quo. Hilary will open a discussion of what these changes might be.
The meeting is Thursday 1st Feb, 7:30pm, Committee Rooms 3+4, Council House, Victoria Square, B11BB.

Unison launch of their manifesto for Birmingham City Council elections, 9th Feb

Unison are holding an event to launch their manifesto for Birmingham City Council elections on Friday 9th February. The Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward will join them for his responses to UNISON key asks of the Birmingham Labour manifesto. UNISON will also be sharing it’s calls for an Activist Council. Deputy Leader Cllr Brigid Jones will be speaking on Labour’s election strategy, and senior figures from UNISON – Regional Secretary Ravi Subramanian and Regional Head of Local Government Claire Campbell will be making contributions too. For more details and to reserve your spot click here.

Northfield constituency dates for your diary
• Northfield CLP all-member meeting, Friday 2nd February, from 7pm at Northfield Quaker Meeting House.

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary
• Quinton ward meeting – 10th Jan, 7.15pm Quinborne Centre, Ridgacre Road, Quinton
• Edgbaston ward local election campaigning: 13th Jan, 10am, full details to be confirmed.
• Edgbaston ward meeting: Tues 16th Jan or 23rd Jan (we’ve been given both dates and will try and confirm as soon as possible) @ 7pm, Edgbaston Community Centre 40 Woodview Drive, Birmingham, B15 2HU. The plan is to couple the meeting with a social event where members can swap unwanted Christmas presents and as a ‘meet the new candidates meeting’.
• Harborne branch meeting: Thursday January 18th 2018, 7pm to 8:30pm at the Quinborne Centre, Ridgacre Road.

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary
• Sparkhill campaigning, weekend of 13th and 14th January – details above.

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary
• Nothing in the diary this week!

NEC elections
Following Labour Party Conference in Brighton there will now be all member elections for three additional CLP representatives on the National Executive Committee.
Momentum nationally will be campaigning for the following candidates, all of whom are supported by the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, fully support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and will campaign for a socialist Labour Government:
• Yasmine Dar – Yasmine is a councillor in Moston, Manchester, ran for selection in the Manchester Gorton by-election and is a qualified social worker.
• Rachel Garnham – Rachel is a member of the Nation Policy Forum and CLP secretary for Mid Bedfordshire.
• Jon Lansman – Jon is a co-founder of Momentum, chair of the National Coordinating Group and previously worked for Michael Meacher MP
The ballot will be distributed to party members via email and post and will close on 12th Jan.

Momentum South Birmingham standing orders
From our Treasurer Cheryl Hedges:
“The Labour Party and Trade Unions don’t have the big backers of the Conservatives. This has the advantage that we are a responsive and campaigning organisation. However there is a down side, and that is we often subsidise the work of Momentum from our own pockets. Contributions are always generous at meetings, however most of this money goes to cover the cost of room hire. I think we have at least 100 supporters of MSB and if everyone gave just £1 per month it would mean a big difference in our ability to campaign, buy Momentum and Labour Party merchandise, publish leaflets and support other activists. We have made contributions to local campaigns such as the striking bin workers and KONP. We would like to continue this activity. If you would like to make a regular donation or even just a one off then please do.”
Bank: Lloyds, Kings Heath
Sort code: 30 94 74
Account number: 27819460
Labour Lives
One thing that many Labour Party members in Birmingham will testify is that information is hard to come by. Members just aren’t told what is going on and that is deliberate and longstanding. Fortunately organisations like MSB are there to keep the West Midlands Regional Office on their toes, and there are plenty of others ensuring members are kept in the loop. Labour Lives performs an excellent job in keeping party members informed – they are definitely worth a follow if you’re on Twitter. They find out some extremely interesting tidbits on a virtually daily basis…………

MSB campaigns and stalls committee
Our recently re-elected stalls co-ordinator Chris Kuriata is always on the lookout for new people to join her committee. Stalls and campaigning have been crucial to the development of the group. You might even get your picture taken with John McDonnell! Email Chriskuriata@live.co.uk for more info.

School cuts
The NUT have set up a school cuts website providing information on what is going on and the likely effects. You can email your MP through the website, it only takes a minute. Please click here. Since the New Year a number of parents groups have sprung up across the country to fight for more funding for our schools. It is an important development that parents have started to organise because Governments cross parents at their peril. Please visit their website.

New to the Labour Party?
Many of us are fairly new to the party and it can be quite an intimidating environment with labyrinthine rules and procedures that are at times baffling – with all the different abbreviations and structures it can be like learning a new language! Momentum Sheffield (who look almost as amazing as MSB…..) have produced a very helpful guide for newcomers that explains the structures, rules, terms and puts things in day-to-day language. It’s worth a read even if you are an experienced old hand! A link to the document is here.

Ward and CLP meetings
If you want the group to publicise upcoming local Labour Party activities and branch (ward)/CLP meetings to encourage attendance, please let us know either by emailing me direct or the group account below; our wonderful social media managers Lucy, Nicky, Ayden and Michael will do the rest!

 

https://www.facebook.com/momentumbirminghamsouth/

https://momentumsbham.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/@MomentumSBham/

MomentumbhamSouth@hotmail.com

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/momentum-south-birmingham

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/wall-of-fame

To join Momentum: https://join.peoplesmomentum.com/

Rather than rolling over, they stood firm through thick and thin

Unite bin workers, took seven weeks of strike action throughout July and August in defiance of council plans to shed 120 refuse staff – 20 per cent of the workforce – and cut wages by up to £5,000 a year.

Councillor Lisa Trickett, BCC Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment ( Labour member for Moseley and Kings Heath), said:

 

‘None of the Grade 3 leading hands who are being made redundant need to lose their jobs with the council. Alternative Grade 3 posts, at the same salary in other parts of the council, are available for all those affected leading hands. No one needs to suffer a cut in their basic pay.’

 

Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett  rebutted:

 

‘The council claims alternative grade-three jobs are available, but this is disingenuous. Most of those jobs are on fixed-termrather than permanent contracts – and many of them need ITskills, hardly suitable for the people whose jobs are being downgraded. It’s simply not the case that these workers can just switch to a different job to maintain their pay.’

 

On 15 August Unite reached an honourable agreement with Birmingham City Council lead by Leader Councillor John Clancy. The Council accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles. This agreement was reached via ACAS whose director Malcolm Boswell announced:

‘ACAS can confirm that an agreement was reached by Birmingham City Council and Unite the union on 15th August 2017 following discussions at ACAS. The terms of the agreement were made public by ACAS at the request of both parties in a press release agreed with both parties.’

Strike action was suspended and Unite members vigorously began a great clear up.

Talks were due to resume on 1 September. Instead meetings were cancelled .Interim Chief Executive Manzie confirmed that the Council issued back dated redundancy notices to the Unite members .The notices contained humiliating terms. Ms Manzie is a Government appointee ,paid around £180,000 per year plus expenses. Her last employer, Rotherham, incurred  around £160,000 annual expenses from her.

Manzie contended:

‘the Council has taken the view that in order to protect its legal and financial position it has needed to issue redundancy notices.’

It is suggested that there were equal pay problems which arise from the 15 August agreement. However no such problems were particularised and the suggestion was questioned  in the strongest possible terms by Unite.

Clancy faced a vote of no confidence, having been elected Leader by a single vote against his Blairite rival.  It must be remembered that Clancy oversaw some improvements in Council policy and services, including the construction of homes. He resigned.

Unite obtained a High Court injunction to prevent the redundancy notices taking effect. The Council was ordered to pay legal costs. The matter was listed for a full hearing on 27th November 2017

On 25th November 2017 the dispute was concluded  with an agreement under which with the honourable terms agreed in August were ratified, albeit in different terms:

*All 109 leading hands will retain their grade 3 status and salary

*The ‘leading hand’ title will be abolished and replaced by a new ‘Waste Reduction and Collection’ role (WRCO), retaining safety responsibilities as well as communications with residents

*Each refuse wagon will have a team of driver, at least one loader and a WRCO –  for  crew and public and public safety

*Guaranteed protection against redundancies and any role changes for at least 12 months from the start of implementation

*Any future changes to waste collection services will be agreed by a joint ‘Service Improvement Board established jointly between BCC and the unions

 

Howard Beckett led the dispute. He stated:

‘This deal secures the grade three posts and protects the pay of workers who faced losing thousands of pounds. It is a victory for common sense and a victory for the people of Birmingham who no longer need worry about the disruption of industrial action. This deal, which protects the livelihoods of hardworking refuse workers ,would not have been possible without the determination and solidarity of Unite members. Rather than rolling over, they stood firm through thick and thin to defend their jobs and the service they provide to the city of Birmingham. The stand that Birmingham’s refuse workers took and the victory they have secured should be an inspiration to others right across the trade union movement.’

The Council paid private contractors  to inefficiently deal with clear-up during the strike It paid unnecessary legal costs.  It made the Council unpopular. It diverted resources from fighting the Tories. The money wasted could have been used to save frontline services for the young and elderly.

Momentum is proud to have stood with the bin workers. Mosely and Kings Heath ward Labour Party passed a motion supporting the dispute and held a members’ collection. Hall Green CLP supported the bin workers. Birmingham TUC established a support committee. Unite branches gave generous donations. The success of the dispute is due to the intelligent refuse workers, their principled Unite leadership and the support of the Movement.

Islwyn Ffowc Elis

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

MSB officers statement on Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games bid

The members of Momentum South Birmingham voted unanimously on the 8th October to oppose Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid and actively campaign both within and outside of the Labour Party against it.

At a time when the city is suffering from eye-watering Tory austerity and many essential services are being outsourced and cut to the bone, the notion that we can spend something in the region of £180 million on what is little more than a vanity project is to MSB’s members, and will also to the people of Birmingham, seem extraordinary.

Sadly our Labour council has done very little over the last seven years to challenge both the narrative and reality of austerity and the impression that the effort expended on the bid rather than doing that leaves is that our city party’s leadership is increasingly out of touch with reality and has a skewed sense of priorities. Elite sport, however enjoyable, is not something that actually benefits most people.

There is little evidence that these projects fund real regeneration. Impressive-sounding numbers are plucked out of the sky about how much extra revenue they will generate for the city or region they are held in but it is never clear who that money will end up going to. Someone will almost certainly be making an awful lot from the Games but it won’t be working class people in Birmingham.

There is no evidence that sporting events of this sort increase participation across the board, which is surely the responsibility of the Council to prioritise. In fact after London 2012 the opposite appears to have been the case.

We’ve also seen time and again how projects of this sort are used to justify social cleansing and gentrification.

It is not difficult to imagine money being sucked out of other pots to fund costs as things develop, as was the case with the new Birmingham Library, which has ended up being an unsustainable white elephant. That was a vanity project of the previous Tory-led council and there is a grave danger of Birmingham Labour repeating the folly.

There are surely far better ways of spending £180 million and we urge Birmingham City Council to pull back from this error – if they choose not to do so we are happy to lead or participate in any campaign to persuade them to.

In solidarity

MSB.

Newsletter 03/07/2017

cropped-cropped-cropped-momentum-cover-photo-61.jpg

Welcome to the latest Momentum South Birmingham newsletter – your unmissable weekly digest of all the interesting things going on politically in our area and beyond.

This weekend was a very busy one indeed for MSB. On Saturday we had a stall at the Moseley Festival, met lots of new people, sold lots of T-Shirts and badges and had a lot of debates about Brexit with the locals 😊

And yesterday we had our meeting with the fantastic Chris Williamson MP (who this very afternoon we learned has been appointed as the Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services –  many congratulations Chris!) who spoke to a standing room only audience in the city centre about the way forward for Labour and Momentum. He was absolutely brilliant and it was an incredibly inspiring discussion – a huge thank you to Chris, everyone involved in running the meeting, everyone who came and welcome to the new people who attended – and we’ll try and book a slightly bigger venue next time! There are lots of pictures on social media so do check them out if you couldn’t make it. We also sold more Jeremy Corbyn T-shirts, more details below on how to get your hands on them as they are shifting fast………..

We also did a collection for the families of Grenfell Tower and raised £101 – thank you to everyone who contributed. You can also donate online here.

It’s pretty clear that Labour needs to be on an almost permanent election campaign footing now so things are definitely starting to pick up again – it’s still a fairly quiet week for CLP activity but we are hearing of various things in the pipeline – keep your eyes out. There’s plenty of other things going on though and there is a big day of campaigning planned in Edgbaston constituency this Saturday on the theme of anti-austerity.

James

 

Defend our children’s centres!

26 children’s centres are at risk of closure across the city. While Birmingham City Council is an almost impossible position due to the cuts it is being forced to make by the Tory government, these centres provide early education and day care for children from 6 months to 5 years and are a vital service for families. Numerous consultation meetings are taking place across the city (list is here, a copy also attached with this newsletter), there is an online consultation form to complete and there is more useful information here.

 

KONP Birmingham meeting, 5th July

KONPB do a huge amount of brilliant work but are always in need of more help. For those who are interested in supporting and/or joining KONP and contributing to campaigns their contact details are btuchcc@hotmail.com.

Meetings are 1st Wednesday of every month (except August), so people can drop in any time at The Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN. The next meeting is this Wednesday, the 5th July, at 19:30pm. Currently KONPB have campaigns on the STPs in Brum/Solihull and Black Country. the Midland Metropolitan Hospital (PFI/2) and they are looking to do some more work on the mental health arrangements for young people 0-25 years in Birmingham – currently ‘red risk’.

Please get involved in, and support, KONPB in any way you can.

 

Edgbaston CLP day of activity – Saturday 8th July

As well as the usual CLP stall at Harborne Farmers’ Market (10am on the High Street opposite WHSmith), Labour members will also spend some time talking to our fellow residents living in tower blocks in the constituency. This will be to make sure that they have the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have about their homes in the wake of the awful events at the Grenfell Tower. Please keep your eyes peeled for more details on social media!

 

Sisters Uncut Birmingham meeting: 22nd July

Sisters Uncut are having their first open meeting on Saturday 22nd July at 14:00 on the ground floor at Rhubarb, 25 Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AE. You’ve probably heard of them but for the uninitiated they are an intersectional feminist group taking direct action for domestic violence services – they have been involved in some pretty inspiring initiatives in London. Here’s the flyer: Sisters Uncut Flyer FINAL (1)

 

MSB Book Club: George Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’, August 1st

Our inaugural book club meeting is on the 1st August! It’ll be at 7pm at Loco Lounge on Kings Heath High Street. Members will be discussing Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’. If you want to join in or need any information email chezhedges@hotmail.com.

 

Save the date – MSB Summer Party on the 4th August!

Just a date for your diaries – our Summer Party will be on Friday the 4th August. You’ll have all weekend to recover if it’s a large one 😊. More details to follow soon!

 

Birmingham Momentum Women’s Group –

Future meetings (next one 14th August)

Women Momentum members across Birmingham are now meeting regularly to discuss women’s position in the Labour Party and how to gain gender equality. It’s a safe space for Momentum and Labour women to come together to support each other, explore issues and plan campaigns.

The next meetings are:

  • Monday 14th August, at Loco Lounge (32/34 High Street Kings Heath, B14 7JT) at 7:30pm.
  • Monday 11th September – City centre location, TBC

 

Northfield constituency dates for your diary

  • Northfield CLP Momentum sub-group meeting: Wednesday, 12th July, 7:30pm, Black Horse Pub on the Bristol Road – upstairs conference room.

 

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary

  • Saturday 8th July: campaign day (full details above)
  • Quinton ward AGM, Wednesday 19th July, 7pm, Quinborne Centre, Ridgacre Road: Quinton ward officers to be elected and possibly councillor selection meenting.
  • Edgbaston CLP AGM Saturday 22nd July – 10am, St Faith and St Lawrence Church Hall, 115 Balden Road, Birmingham B32 2EL. CLP-wide officers and officers for Bartley Green, Edgbaston and Harborne will be elected and very likely the 2018 councillor selection will be conducted too.

 

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary

  • July 13th Moseley and Kings Heath ward meeting: With the election campaign over, normal meetings resume and they will be having their regular meeting on Thursday 13th July at the Moseley Exchange.

 

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary

  • Nothing this week unfortunately but we’ll let you know if we hear anything for future editions.

 

Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Women in Momentum’s three Birmingham branches are now meeting regularly and the dates of their next two meetings are further down this newsletter. They have also produced an excellent article on improving the gender balance on Birmingham City Council. There have been some worrying rumours about attempts being made to water it down in some of the new wards – the way that we can challenge this is oppose any dilution in our Labour Parties but also for women to stand as councillors. The piece can be read here – please share far and wide.

 

New to the Labour Party?

Many of us are fairly new to the Labour Party and it can be quite an intimidating environment with labyrinthine rules and procedures that are at times baffling – with all the different abbreviations and structures it can be like learning a new language! Momentum Sheffield (who look almost as amazing as MSB…..) have produced a very helpful guide for newcomers that explains the structures, rules, terms and puts things in day-to-day language. It’s worth a read even if you are an experienced old hand! A link to the document is here.

 

South Birmingham Momentum T-Shirts

Not before time in our view, wear it with pride: MSB t-shirts are going to be ordered: £10 for members and £12 for none-members (another compelling reason to join Momentum!) red with Birmingham Momentum on it and a big picture of Jeremy! If you would like one email nicky151289@gmail.com, they are available in medium, large or extra-large.

 

Burton Unite members in dispute with Argos – let’s support them!

While of course the eyes of Momentum South Birmingham were mostly fixed on the general election and ensuring our city’s constituencies returned Labour MPs, we should not forget that there are industrial disputes going on that can and should be supported. One of those is just down the road in Burton where Argos workers organised by the Unite union are on strike.

There is much more information here: please offer any help you can at this very busy time for all of us.  We are also aiming to bring you more information about the refuse workers strike in Birmingham in future editions and on social media – keep your eyes peeled.

 

Fundraising survey

Our fundraising co-ordinator, Nicky, has drawn up a quick survey for members and supporters to fill in to canvass our views on what we want. If you have a spare couple of minutes please fill it in here.

 

MSB statement on the July 2015 ‘freeze date’ decision

The Birmingham Board of the Labour Party, in their infinite wisdom, decided to retain the July 2015 freeze date for members to participate in the selection of candidates for the 2018 local election elections. We have published a statement that you can read here and rest assured it will not be the end of the matter. Momentum seeks to get Labour members elected to public office. Labour will only succeed in doing that if it engages with its new members and gives them a say. The decision is a monumental act of folly.

 

‘Regional’ Momentum co-ordination

Cecile Wright, one of our elected NGC reps for the large ‘region’ that Birmingham and the West Midlands sits in, would like to keep in touch about how she can best open communication with us to better represent us on the Momentum Council. She wants people to feel free to get in touch with her and her email is c.wright230@ntlworld.com. As things develop further post-conference we’ll keep you informed.

 

School cuts

The NUT have set up a school cuts website providing information on what is going on and the likely effects. You can email your MP through the website, it only takes a minute. Please click here. Since the New Year a number of parents groups have sprung up across the country to fight for more funding for our schools. It is an important development that parents have started to organise because Governments cross parents at their peril. Please visit their website.

 

MSB social media classes and blog pitches

Nicky Brennan, one of our social media managers, has started running classes if you are uninitiated in Facebook and Twitter etc. and want to learn more about how to make best use of them – they are crucial part of modern political campaigning and you are never too old to learn something new! If you’re interested get in touch with Nicky: nicky151289@gmail.com

We are also looking to get more original content on our blog – it is a somewhat underused resource for discussing ideas and giving our members a platform to write about the issues of concern to them. Drop Nicky a line if you have any ideas – particularly if they are about local issues and our campaigning – or things you think we should be doing more on and want to draw attention to.

 

Ward and CLP meetings

If you want the group to publicise upcoming local Labour Party activities and branch and CLP meetings to encourage attendance, please let us know either by emailing me direct or the group account below; our wonderful social media managers Kate, Lucy, Nicky and Sam will do the rest!

 

https://www.facebook.com/momentumbirminghamsouth/

https://momentumsbham.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/@MomentumSBham/

MomentumbhamSouth@hotmail.com

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/momentum-south-birmingham

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/wall-of-fame

Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Birmingham Momentum women’s group has launched a campaign to get more Labour women onto Birmingham City Council.

Only 40% of Labour councillors in Birmingham are women – 32 out of the 80 seats Labour currently holds. That’s way below Labour’s national target of a minimum of 50% female representation amongst Labour councillors in every local authority in the country.

The ward boundary changes and all-out local government elections in 2018 are unlikely to see any improvement. Based on the 2016 council election results, the number of Labour-held seats is likely to drop from 80 to approximately 68. So hitting the 50% target would require 34 women to become Labour councillors.

At the moment there are 30 women councillors on the Local Government Panel (the list of people whose nominations have been approved). But of the 35 non councillors on the panel only four are women! So to achieve the target of 50% in 2018, 34 women would need to be shortlisted, selected and elected i.e. all of the 30 women councillors currently nominating and all four of the new nominees. That’s rather unrealistic given some wards are becoming two-seat wards, and that not all panel members want to represent any area in the city.

We’re encouraging women to apply for the Local Government Panel for 2018. To be shortlisted as a candidate you need to be on the panel – it’s as simple as that.
At the time of writing we are unsure when councillor selections will start – probably from early July. Panel applications will still be considered and may be approved even after the selection process has begun.

We know it’s a big step so Birmingham Women’s Momentum will be supporting women who apply, by sharing information and our experience as we go through the process.
We are also looking at what training is available for applicants, and other platforms that provide development opportunities. Watch this space in late summer/early Autumn.

Finally, being on the panel doesn’t mean you have to accept a nomination to stand for selection in any particular ward – just that by being on the panel you would be considered.

Application forms are available by logging in at: http://www.birmingham-labour.com/splash?splash=1 and clicking on ‘City Council Election 2018’.

If you have any queries or just want to chat contact momentumbhamsouth@hotmail.com and we’ll point you in the direction of your local Momentum contact on the issue!