Dalian Atkinson Death: We Need Democratic Control of The Police Now!

The jailing of West Mercia Police officer Benjamin Monks for killing former Villa player Dalian Atkinson is a welcome victory in the family’s five year campaign for justice. This is the first time since the 1980s a police officer has been convicted for a death during or following police contact, despite 1800 taking place in the intervening years.

However, it appears that the other police officer involved in Atkinson’s death will be allowed to continue serving. Questions also have to be asked as to why Monks was given access to the taser that he used to kill Atkinson when he had a warning for gross misconduct against his name.

This incident and the many other shocking acts of police violence which disproportionally target black men shows the need for democratic community control over police policy and hiring, and to fight to end the capitalist system which profits from racist oppression.

Here we republish an article written at the time of Dalian’s killing in 2016 by Hugo Pierre from the Socialist Party’s Black and Asian Group

Black footballer’s taser death: stop police racism now

Ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson was repeatedly tasered by police at his home in Telford, Shropshire on 15 August. He died from the incident an hour and a half later. The police claim that they were called to an incident following a “report of concern for the safety of an individual”.

Atkinson is the 16th person to have died after being tasered by police since the weapon was first introduced in 2003. Taser use has increased as more police are issued with them. They do not have the same restrictions on their use as firearms, and the amount of training is usually three days.

Atkinson’s death follows those of many other black people at the hands of police. Only in July, Mzee Mohammed was killed in police custody in Liverpool; last year Sheku Bayoh died of asphyxiation in Kircaldy, Scotland, following a brutal arrest. These are just some of the campaigns trying to get justice for victims of police brutality.

But many more black youth and workers face harassment. On the streets, black youths are several times more likely to be stopped and searched than white youths.

And in the same week as Atkinson’s killing, a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission showed racism and discrimination are still entrenched in the power structures of British society. Black children are three times more likely to be excluded in schools; black graduates earn 23% less than their white counterparts.

As well as fighting for democratic community control over police policy and hiring, we need to fight to end the capitalist system which profits from racist oppression. Socialism can guarantee jobs, homes and services for all, laying the basis for campaigning to eliminate racism once and for all.

Black Lives Matter

Meanwhile, another murder of a black man at the hands of the police – Sylville Smith on 13 August – sparked angry demonstrations in Milwaukee, USA. Underlying the anger that erupted on the streets is the level of segregation and poverty in one of the poorest black communities in the United States.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has sprung up throughout the US following the death of Michael Brown in Fergusson, Missouri.

Reports on the police force in Fergusson showed the commercialisation and privatisation of the police meant black people were criminalised to fund the service. Petty misdemeanours were punished with fines, and defaulting on those fines was followed up quickly with imprisonment.

Protest has spread throughout the US and is now being replicated in the UK and other parts of the world. The movement will continue to fight for justice for all victims of police brutality.

Importantly, big sections of the movement are increasingly moving beyond just campaigning against injustice. They are now moving onto the political plain, and starting to develop a programme of demands to tackle the blight of racism.

The civil rights movement of the 1950s, 60s and 70s was a titanic struggle. The involvement of the trade unions was an enormous boost.

But the best leaders were drawing conclusions that the fight against racism also had to be joined with the fight for something. The fight for a different society where the profit motive was not the driver, but instead cooperation and collaboration between workers of all races. A society where the 1% could no longer have the power to use divide-and-rule of racism to retain its wealth at the expense of the rest.

Today, we have the opportunity to fight for socialist ideas to build the Black Lives Matter movement to fight against racist division and for a socialist world.

Yes To A Clean Air City, No To The Clean Air Zone Charge!


In Birmingham a new tax has been forced on the city by the Tory government which will hit the poorest hardest, takes no account of income or ability to pay, and which is causing growing anger among the community. No, this is not the poll tax again, but sure enough we have a Labour council doing the Tories’ dirty work and hammering the working class instead of fighting back.

On June 1st the city council introduced the Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) which requires drivers of older and more polluting vehicles to pay an £8 charge to use the roads in central Birmingham.

The CAZ is supposedly an attempt to drive down the levels of air pollution in the city, in particular the ‘fine air particles’ which can cause numerous very serious disease such as strokes and cancer. Birmingham suffers from very high levels of these pollutants in its air, at the maximum limit as recommended by the World Health Organisation. 

Public Health England has reported that air pollution causes an estimated 1460 excess deaths each year in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. A Kings College London study in 2019 showed that pollution caused the shortening of lives of children and specifically named north Birmingham suburb Erdington as a pollution hotspot with as many as 91 deaths attributed to pollution in 2011.

Working class people have always been aware of the problem and most of us agree that something has to be done. But all this shoddy scheme will do is cause inconvenience to a minority of drivers while emissions and congestion continues apace.

Even the city council’s own feasibility study found that introducing a daily charge on motorists would not be sufficient to make the city comply with government’s new emissions restrictions.

There are looming climate and public health crises. Socialists have always argued that there needs to be an urgent shift from cars to public transport, cycling and walking. To facilitate the necessary change there needs to be a massive improvement in the public transport options on offer. 

It is to be welcomed that after many decades of local campaigning, and inaction by Labour and Tory governments, the Camp Hill line is finally being reopened for passenger rail services and the Metro is to be extended. But without a serious plan to tackle over-use of cars across the entire city and addressing the continuing long term decline in bus usage the impact on traffic levels will be insufficient to effectively deal with the problems. 

Immediate steps should be significant investment in bus and cycle infrastructure, make public transport free to all, increase the frequency and reliability of buses with security measures such as additional on-board staff and proper bus stations to enable all members of society to feel safe travelling during at all times of the day and the night. There should be massive investment in all types of electric buses and a push towards demand-responsive bus services which are more flexible to people’s needs. Re-nationalisation of the bus network should be a first step, an industry which has been bailed out by the state during Covid, despite racking up massive profits while overseeing continuous decline in ridership.

Instead the Blairite Labour council has simply gone for the low hanging fruit and introduced a charge for motorists who do not drive the newest or cleanest cars and vans. Unlike when London introduced its Congestion Charge there has been no increase in the frequency of quality of public transport in advance of this scheme. The result is that those who cannot afford to change their car will be either forced to drive a longer route around the city or stump up the £8 charge.

There are now 2 classes of motorist in Birmingham: those who are allowed to drive freely, and those who are not. To make matters worse the council has placed the onus on the motorist to take the initiative in paying the daily charge. Should they forget or fail to pay for any other reason they are liable for a £120 fine!

We now have the spectacle of local Tory politicians like the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street opportunistically arguing against the implementation of his own party’s scheme on the basis that it unfairly hits poorer working class people. Northfield Tory MP Gary “Big Dinners” Sambrook jumps on the bandwagon and writes “this impacts our poorer residents the most who cannot afford to buy shiny new cars.” However, nobody should be fooled into believing that Sambrook holds any sympathies for the suffering of the poor – this character was one of the 318 Tory MPs who shamefully voted down feeding 1.4m of the poorest children during the school holidays last year.

So where is the opposition from Labour? Judging from the comments of Preet Gill MP (Birmingham Edgbaston), we shouldn’t expect much! She supports the CAZ and described it as a “bold, new idea”. Since they’ve been running the city Birmingham’s Labour councillors have sacked 12,000 council employees, tried and failed to cut bin workers pay, attacked the Homecare workers and closed down countless local services.

Perhaps the clearest expression of opposition simply comes from than the boss of the AA, a motoring organisation, who explains the plight of those hit by the charge: “These drivers are least able to afford to replace the vehicles they depend on for work, often night shifts, and sometimes emergencies such as going to hospital. They are also the ones least able to pay the fines.”

Finally we need to replace the remaining petrol and diesel vehicles with affordable hybrid or fully electric vehicles in the shortest time possible. This could be done by nationalising the electric vehicle industry under workers control and management and retooling the existing car plants to produce electric vehicles. 

New Workers’ Party Needed

What is crystal clear is that working class people in Birmingham have no party who will stand up for them either in the council chamber or in Westminster. Labour have proved time and time again that it is willing to stick the boot in to the working class on behalf of the Tory government and the bosses in general. This is because, despite receiving millions of pounds in funding from trade unions, they want to prove that they can be relied on to look after the interests of British capitalism if they are ever to win power again. Keir Starmer has made it clear that he is shredding what remains of Jeremy Corbyn’s radical manifesto of 2017 to this end.

We in the Socialist Party say that this isn’t good enough. The unions should no longer hand over their members’ money to a party which is batting for the opposite side. We need a new mass workers’ party which will take urgent measures to clean up the environment and make sure that it is the rich and the elite of society who foot the bill, not ordinary working class people through charges and fines.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, an organisation involving the RMT transport workers’ union, the Socialist Party, former Labour MP Chris Williamson’s Resist party and others, stands in local and national elections and opposes all attacks on the jobs and living standards of working class people. We believe this can play an important role in the establishment of a new workers party.

We urge you to join the Socialist Party today!

Ted Woodley

Birmingham North branch

Save jobs, save livelihoods, save GKN Automotive – nationalise the plant!

On 28 January, not even a full month into 2021, over 500 GKN Automotive key workers based at the company’s Erdington plant received the devastating news that their jobs and livelihoods are to be axed. The redundancy number could be doubled or tripled, with a devastating knock-on effect to others in the associated supply chain.

This is even more horrendous when put in the context of how these 500-plus skilled jobs will be gutted from the working-class community of Erdington, a constituency that has twice the national average of unemployment. And once these jobs are gone, they are gone! Workers will struggle to find new employment with similar wages, forcing workers to struggle to support themselves and their families.

Fast forward to the 19 May, and management turned down the rescue plan put forward by Unite the Union, with convenor Frank Duffy saying: “I’m extremely disappointed in the company’s response to our counter-proposal which showed we were a viable and profitable site. We don’t accept the company’s position and the fight to reverse the company’s decision will continue.”

It is clear that whatever practical plans and viable alternatives were proposed, the notorious asset strippers Melrose was always planning from day one, back in 2018, to sell off and profit from the closure of the plant.

The Socialist Party extends its solidarity to the GKN workers and encourages Unite the Union to take inspiration from its section in Ireland. There, rank-and-file members took industrial action and occupied the Harland and Wolff dockyard. This swung the position of power over to the workers in the negotiations, not the bosses, making clear the need for government intervention to nationalise the plant to save jobs and livelihoods!

There needs to be the building of dispute committees, community support groups, cross-union solidarity campaigns and protests, both on and offsite, inviting all to attend to build up sustained pressure.

Read more on the struggle to save jobs at GKN here

Dea-John Reid Murder: Fight For Jobs, Homes and Services, Not Crime and Racism

Birmingham Socialist Party sends its condolences to the family and friends of  14 year old Dea-John Reid who was tragically murdered on the streets of Kingstanding on Monday evening.

From reports from locals and witnesses to the horrific murder it was clear from the beginning that this was a racist murder after witnesess reported the boy being chased and subjected to racist abuse before being stabbed.

Disgracefully but unsurprisingly West Midlands Police denied and attempted to play down the racist motive of the 14 year old’s tragic murder, only admitting on Wednesday evening what locals had been reporting all along: that racism had sparked this tragic sequence of events.

Currently six people, four men in their 30s and two boys aged 13 and 14, have been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in police custody.

Read on for our analysis of the social issues that have fuelled both racism and violent crime in Birmingham

Protesting outside West Midlands Police HQ with Black Lives Matter in June 2020

Independent Investigation Needed

The actions of West Midlands Police in relation to this case and in previous incidents involving the deaths of black men in custody shows that we can’t trust this force to investigate the reason for Dea-John’s murder, including possible racist motives, by themselves.

We need an independent investigation involving elected members of the local community in Kingstanding and North Birmingham, including trade union reps, particularly those involved in working with young and vulnerable people in schools and social services.

Protesting outside Birmingham Council House

Austerity Devastates Brum

Such an enquiry could not just begin to establish the real circumstances of this murder, but also the social problems which provide the backdrop to this latest outrage. The fact that 41.6% of children in Birmingham are living in poverty (the highest rate outside of London). The 9.8% of people unemployed, with many tens of thousands more in precarious work and 55,400 currently on furlough wondering if they’ll have a job to go back to.

Along with the decently paid, secure jobs that have been lost from the city due to the decline of manufacturing, the social ties of working class communities in Brum have been further hit by a decade of cuts to public services, largely administered by the Labour council. Among the 12,000 jobs axed by Birmingham City Council since 2010 will have been many community and youth workers who previously helped young people find a positive future away from street crimes and violence.

Rather than build a campaign to win funding from Westminster for expanded public services that could prevent crime, the Labour Party’s main response via their Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster is to call for a sticking plaster of 450 extra police officers. But if they are not democratically accountable to the communities they police, if they continue to carry out groundless stop and searches focused on Black and Asian young people, this could serve to heighten tensions rather than ease them.

With many young people already feeling frustrated due to the effects of Covid in placing them under lockdown for many months and also robbing them of the opportunity to study and find work, it’s vital that trade unions and democratically run residents’ and community associations work to ensure that any tensions created by this shocking murder are channelled in the direction of campaigning for better jobs, homes and public services rather than a repeat of the riots which followed the murder of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police in 2011.

The tories and the rest of the ruling class in the media have diverted the anger people have about these conditions towards racism. Priti Patel whipped up fear around migrants while the capitalist media raised tensions by filming desperate refugees in dinghies. They also inflamed a cultural war by claiming that BLM was attacking Britain and its values.

Black Lives Matter protest in Birmingham

Build a Mass Movement To Smash Racism

The Socialist Party is fighting to build a mass movement that can smash racism and the class inequality that together press on the necks of young people. To do this we must organise and draw all the lessons and ideas from the movements that have gone before; the slave revolts that led to the abolition of slavery; the Civil Rights movements; the anti-colonial revolutions; struggles against fascists in Britain, and all the struggles of the organised working class and socialists against exploitation and oppression.

Leaving the power to run society in the hands of the existing rulers, the big business boss class, condemns us to having to keep fighting racism. Mass united working-class action and organisation, united around a programme of anti-racism and anti-capitalism, to fight for socialism, with the working class taking power, is necessary.

Coronavirus has revealed all the brutal truths about capitalism – showing how big business bosses and their Tory representatives prioritise profits, and are therefore utterly unable to keep society safe, while workers have been shown to be the ones keeping society going and defending safety. Kier Starmer’s Labour Party has offered no serious alternative and has been absent from all the major protests.

The Socialist Party builds on the conclusion of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers: “You can’t have capitalism without racism”. What does that mean for building the Black Lives Matter movement? It means building a mass united movement of working-class people with anti-racism at its heart; that fights for workplace safety and PPE for all who need it; for fighting trade unions; for free education; for democratic working class control of the police and for a future for all young people. It means building a new mass party of workers and young people because we can’t trust the capitalist politicians with our lives and our future.

And it means fighting for the alternative to capitalism – socialism. Capitalism is outmoded. It can’t offer us a future.

Birmingham Stands With Palestine

Following the recent assault by the Israeli Defence Force on the West Bank and Gaza, two recent protests took place in Birmingham, at which Socialist Party members were in attendance.

On Tuesday 11th of May, a protest was called for 6PM outside of Waterstones in the heart of Birmingham’s shopping district to address the ongoing atrocities in Palestine. While this demonstration was called with little notice, a small contingent of comrades intervened with leaflets and petitions and were greeted warmly in their show of solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and their struggle for their very survival. 

The protest itself pulled a large crowd, managing to block almost the entire street in a flurry of flags and placards, which only grew and grew as it went on. Throughout the activity was a continuous stream of impassioned speakers with powerful messages to the masses, imploring governments and people from all walks of life to bring a stop to the violence and occupation from the Israeli forces, and restore peace to the region.

Victoria Square in the centre of Birmingham was almost filled to capacity with an angry demonstration against the Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian population. The mood of many of the demonstrators has shown how the Middle East can be seriously destabilised by the Israeli government’s actions.

Much of the vitriol was directed against the British government for failing to support the Palestinians and for selling arms to Israel. Many were calling for the government to stop selling arms and for a boycott of Israeli goods. The Gaza situation was likened to apartheid South Africa.

While the demo was quite correctly angry at these events no political strategy capable of pushing the Israeli government back was outlined by any of the speakers at the rally, in facts some of the speeches could only result in widening divisions between Jews and Palestinians and create an even more dangerous situation.

Disgracefully, the organiser, who is the Secretary of Birmingham Trades Union Council, refused a request from the Socialist Party to speak at the rally because we wanted ‘a cosy chat with the Israeli working class’. Today’s events have only been made possible because of the failure of Palestinian nationalist organisations and their shadows elsewhere to appeal to Jewish workers on a class basis and draw them away from anti-working class reactionaries like Netanyahu.

Thankfully that sectarianism wasn’t shared by the majority of the demonstrators who received our leaflet well and donated £28.40 with 31 people signing our petition.

We’re holding a Zoom meeting to discuss how Palestine can win genuine liberation at 7:30pm on Thursday 20th May – click here to log in to the meeting or enter meeting ID 419 333 9324

For further analysis on the situation in Israel and Palestine, check out our latest article.

Tories Triumphant, Labour in Turmoil – We Need A New Workers’ Party!

After the results from the elections on the 6th May, which saw the Tories strengthen their grip on the West Midlands Mayorality and make gains on Birmingham City Council, the Labour Party crisis continues.

Kier Starmer and his supporters blame the outcome in Hartlepool and elsewhere on left policies and not distancing themselves from Corbyn enough. How should the left of Labour and the trade union leaders respond? How can socialists prevent further disenfranchisement of the working class, youth and previous Corbyn supporters?

Check out the latest article from the Socialist Party looking at what’s behind the results of last week’s elections and the next steps for socialists:

Why I’m Standing For TUSC

Birmingham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates tell us why they’re standing in this May’s council election

Eamonn Flynn, Hall Green North

Working-class people need a voice in the council chamber. When the Labour Party was formed a hundred years ago, it did that job. It pulled together workers and fighting trade unionists, and gave them a voice. Not only a candidate to vote for at election time, but a movement to fight in their interests all year around.

For far too long now, the Labour Party and its candidates in council and parliamentary elections have failed to do this. In Birmingham, I have listened to councillors telling the public that there is nothing they can do to oppose cuts in council services and jobs. I would just like to see them try, as Labour councillors in the past did in Liverpool and Poplar.

If our existing councillors are not prepared to defend communities, they must step down and make way for someone that will. I think that if councillors took a stand and built a campaign to demand the funding required from the government to meet the needs of their communities, workers would stand with them in that fight, and that fight could be won.

That is why I will be standing as a TUSC candidate in May.

Abdul Haq, Billesley

I disagree with this year’s 4.99 per cent council tax rise – particularly as the West Midlands Police precept has increased. We should be funding a decent pay rise for NHS workers, not councillors’ inflated allowances.

To make change you have to be in the areas where working class people are discussing and debating. It’s the only way you can do things in Birmingham.

We need to sort out the potholes currently plaguing Billesley – I will cover the costs out of his own councillor allowance if I cannot get the council to do it.

Another key issue is street lighting in the ward, which currently leaves residents with safety fears and unable to see where they are going at night.

Ted Woodley, Oscott

Primarily, we are an anti-austerity campaign. We are campaigning for better public services and the reversal of all cuts carried out by the council since 2010.

I think I can make a difference. If we had just one socialist councillor, that would be a fantastic platform from which we could build a struggle in the community against the cuts.

A massive problem affecting Oscott – as well as the rest of the city – is a shortage of social housing, with private accommodation being very expensive and also not being maintained to a decent standard.

If elected I would push for a far more rigorous approach to dealing with rogue landlords as well as a building and refurbishment programme for social housing in the city.

Come to our West Midlands online rally at 7pm on Sunday 2nd May – Zoom ID 818 0628 0433 (no password required)

This post promoted by Joe Foster at 11 Kerby Road, Stockland Green, Birmingham B23 7EX on behalf of Birmingham TUSC candidates

Standing Against All Cuts

Between them Birmingham’s Tory and Labour councillors have carried out £750m worth of cuts since 2010, with more than 12,000 council jobs axed, with an extra £41m worth of cuts still to come this year.

These cuts have consequences and the poorest are hit the hardest.

Working-class families and communities across the city have been ignored and neglected for too many years. Birmingham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in which Socialist Party members play a leading role, says enough is enough!

Before the pandemic the Labour council made sweetheart deals with property developers building luxury apartments and hotels in the city centre completely unaffordable to ordinary workers while ignoring the lack of council housing needed to solve the housing crisis.

We’ve still got tower blocks with Grenfell-type cladding across the city waiting for a disaster to happen, sheltered homes for the elderly and vulnerable being left to grow black mould, burst pipes, broken lobby doors with no sense of security for residents, coupled with a slow, outsourced maintenance team.

This council doesn’t have the bottle to combat dodgy and exploitative landlords. Some sitting councillors are landlords themselves!

Birmingham TUSC will be campaigning tirelessly to bring all these rogue landlords to justice, to repair and maintain all social housing so everyone can feel safe in their own home. All long-term empty properties in the city should immediately be taken under council ownership and the council should launch a crash council house building programme in order to start tackling the increasing waiting time on council housing lists.

Furthermore, Birmingham TUSC demands that all the public services including nurseries, youth centres, sports clubs, libraries, swimming pools and more that have been stolen away from working-class communities be reinstated and brought back in house.

The Commonwealth Games is an expensive vanity project and will not replace the services cut back over the last decade. The Games is not coming to the city to help working class people in Birmingham. We need community sports facilities, not PR stunts!

TUSC stands shoulder to shoulder with council workers fighting to keep our city’s services running and defending their pay and conditions, like the homecare and bin workers. The Blairite Labour councillors spent over £18m on hiring scab armies and consultants for a bin dispute that would have taken less than £1m to resolve…. But now they have the cheek to raise your council tax by 4.99%!

With socialists in the council chamber, working class people have the best chance of fighting the Westminster Tories and winning the resources our communities need for a decent life for all.

Vote TUSC and join our campaign to defend jobs, homes and services in Birmingham! We’re standing in this May’s City council by-elections in:

Billesley – Abdul Haq

Hall Green North – Eamonn Flynn

Oscott – Ted Woodley

Quinton – Mia Wroe

Come to our West Midlands online rally at 7pm on Sunday 2nd May – Zoom ID 818 0628 0433 (no password required)

Promoted by Joe Foster at 11 Kerby Road, Birmingham B23 7EX on behalf of Birmingham TUSC candidates.

Violence Against Women – We Will Not Be Silenced

In the last few days, women and men have turned out across the country to remember Sarah Everard, defying the undemocratic establishment ban on peaceful vigils. They were there to protest the everyday threat of violence and harassment that so many women face whether walking the streets, in their own homes, at school, on the university campuses or in the workplaces.

These included protests in Birmingham City Centre and on the University of Birmingham campus. Here we publish two reports:

Birmingham: Searching for political answers

Over 100 people gathered right at the heart of Birmingham in Victoria Square, outside the council offices.

This was in spite of draconian laws recently introduced by stealth by the Tories to curtail the fundamental right to protest, and demands from West Midlands Police who pressured organisers to cancel the original event.

Although the original organisers did not attend, many women and people of all genders from different communities across the city grouped in the city centre. While the event began as a vigil, it was clear that attendees were looking for political answers to the deep-rooted structural issues faced by women.

Women members of the Socialist Party took the lead in delivering speeches to the crowd, raising the need for fully funded services and a socialist future to protect women and create real equality for everyone. We encouraged other protesters to come up and speak about their own experiences.

There was great interest in the political points being made, with many taking leaflets, papers and leaving their details with members to continue to discuss how to continue to take political action despite attacks from the Tories and capitalist establishment.

Ella Foley Doyle

On Wednesday 17th March, socialist students at the University of Birmingham stood in solidarity with the Reclaim Our Campus protest; a socially distanced vigil recounting the horrific abuse women and other marginalised genders face every day. With a huge turnout of nearly a thousand UoB students, we listened to impassioned speeches and testimonies of those who had suffered as a direct result of the University’s antiquated, patriarchal, and capitalist ideals. With speeches lasting well over 2 hours, it was no surprise that the university has a long way to go to ensure the safety of its students.

Socialist Students stands wholeheartedly with this movement and demands immediate action to be taken by the University of Birmingham. As of the 16th, there have been 6 reported cases of women students being forcibly pulled into cars and assaulted surrounding the main student neighbourhood – all of which the university denied existing. And there are hundreds more cases of women being harassed, abused, and made to feel unsafe in their place of learning.

We demand the university take decisive action to condemn the misogynist culture that permeates the institution, and commit to severe disciplinary action to be taken against sexual assaulters and harassers. For too long the university has ignored survivors, facilitated abusers, and consistently put profits above the safety of their students.

We demand better funding and signposting for victim support services, a commitment of concrete action to be taken against perpetrators, and better lighting around campus and accommodation at night. You cannot put a price tag on the safety of women students, and it is all too clear that the university must do better.

Socialist Students calls for:

  • Government funding for what women need on campus – properly funded support services, campus lighting and affordable housing. Scrap marketization, fees and debt!
  • Democratic oversight of sexual harassment reporting procedures
  • A united campaign of staff and students that can fight to transform the campuses – organise for free education and make the 1% pay!
  • To fight for a socialist alternative to capitalist inequality and chaos

We’ll be joining other Socialist Students and Socialist Party members from around the country for a meeting to discuss the socialist approach to ending harassment and violence against women at 6pm on Friday 19th March – click here to register.

And on Wednesday 21st April at 4pm we’ll be holding a socially distanced protest at University of Birmingham for free education and full funding of the services we need, including measures to prevent sexual harassment.

Read more on our programme for womens’ rights and socialism recently created by female Socialist Party members here


Don’t throw workers on the scrapheap

On 28th January, not even a full month into 2021 over 500 GKN automotive workers based at the company’s Erdington plant received the devastating news that their jobs and livelihoods are to be axed. It can also be safely said that the redundancy number will in practice be much higher with its knock-on effect with associated supply chains.

However despite this being a massive shock to many staff across the factory floor and different job roles, this had been a creeping fear since 2018 when self-acclaimed ‘venture-capitalist’ (more like vulture-capitalist) company Melrose industries bought GKN in an aggressive US style hostile takeover.

Melrose dub themselves as ‘turnaround’ specialists but the only specialism we can see here is that of asset stripping and profiteer gutting of one of the UK’s oldest engineering assembly lines, helping put the final nails in the British automotive industry.

The Chester Road factory employs a highly skilled workforce with the collective knowledge and specialist technical experience across its membership spanning into a hundred plus years, an extremely viable and important workforce for the local community and city.

GKN management stated that this decision to close the plant and winding down production in preparation to move sites to another European location in an 18th month transition is due to….

an increasingly competitive global market means that the site is no longer viable’’

We say the proof is in the pudding. Why should workers who have given years and decades of their lives to the factory take management’s statement at face value? It was only two years prior that Melrose promised that GKN job security was guaranteed and top priority.

We at the Socialist Party say GKN and Melrose Industries need to open their books and have the accounts reviewed democratically and transparently by Unite and rank and file worker’s representatives to truly see what resources are available and where the money is going.

It would be interesting to see what money and bonuses Melrose bosses and shareholders are receiving at the same time as over 500 ordinary workers are being told their jobs are on the chopping block.

It was only two years ago in preparation for their hostile takeover of GKN that the top brass of Melrose received large ‘incentive packages’ with the top four executives receiving £41.7 million each, equalling an eye-watering total of £166.8 million!

This obscene amount being declared by company management as ‘completely vital and essential’. Quite a healthy chunk of capital that could have been invested in GKN and its staff.

It’s not like top management are not raking in some healthy-looking salaries already, Melrose CEO Simon Peckham receiving a pay packet of £976,000 in 2019.

Melrose seems to be following the same pattern as when Royal Mail bosses also back in 2018 gave out a £5.8 million ‘’golden hello’ incentive payments to boss Rico Back, however Royal Mail bosses lost their battle for job cuts, site closure and stripping T&C’s through a strong coordinated union fightback.

Also Unite members at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick in Lancashire recently halted bosses’ plans to mothball the site after a determined campaign of strike action, showing that job cuts in manufacturing can be beaten.

Fightback against the race to the bottom

The proposed closure of the Chester Road plant is a new blow for manufacturing workers, in the midst of a new wave of deindustrialisation that is weakening the UK economy and ultimately resulting in further attacks and a race to the bottom on the living standards of working-class communities.

The company blames the factory closure on vague corporate soundbites such as ‘global market competition’ but in reality, plant production has and is being set up to fail.

The reality is that Melrose and GKN upper management are using fluctuations in demand to try and divest itself of factories in countries with a higher wage bill – that’s what’s behind the company’s talk of Chester Road Plant’s ‘cost disadvantage’ and lack of ‘efficiency’.

It is not in the interests of the working class of any country to let big corporations continue the race to the bottom and pull out of countries where wages and conditions are higher.

GKN with its strings pulled by Melrose typifies one of the fundamental contradictions in capitalism, which drives down wages in order to pump profits up, but then finds that workers collectively don’t have the money to buy the products they have produced.

Just like the railways, we are subsidising huge profit-making companies but getting no control over decisions like job cuts and relocations in return.

The only lasting solution is to nationalise the industry.

Many workers will have questions how this could work. How, for example, can you nationalise factories that only make a component, not a finished article that workers want to buy?

But in reality most factory workers have been through a transition where a factory introduces a new line of product. Here the government would provide the necessary investment to fund the transition, including prioritising switching to environmentally friendly production and products.

Instead of setting up task forces to direct workers to non-existent alternative jobs, democratically elected committees involving the workforce and consumers could identify what might be produced and what is needed.

An example like that could spread like wildfire and compel further action, across Britain and further afield. It was a Tory government that was compelled to nationalise Rolls-Royce in the 1970s.

Plans of action

We fully hope that management genuinely engage with Unite around the negotiation table and work with worker representatives to find a solution to save all the jobs at the plant. However if management shut down talks or refuse to engage in plans and alternatives to save the 500 plus livelihoods on the line then Unite should not shy away from taking industrial action to defend jobs, taking steps such as…

  1. Balloting members for industrial action to go on strike, walkouts and safe socially distanced pickets, formation of strike committee open to all workers, mass distribution dispute information across all sites and local communities to build cross city support and social media.
  2. Calling for the immediate stepping in from the government to nationalise the plant and its current or repurposed production under democratic workers control and management with compensation only on proven need.
  3. To fight for every job both in house and agency.

 If you agree with the points and suggested demands raised or want to discuss differences or alternatives, please feel free to get in touch with the contact details below