Heartlands Hospital porters to strike again- stand firm and beat the bosses!

After 48 hours of strike action on 30th October the porters are walking out for another two days on 23rd November.

Despotic management at the University Hospitals Birmingham trust (UHB) are determined to bulldoze ahead with their plans to wreck the work/life balance of the porters at Heartlands by imposing a brutal rotating shift system. The porters organised in the union Unison are having none of it and are fighting back. Birmingham Socialist Party supports the porters 100%.

In the meantime the trust’s chair, former Blairite Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, is trying to make a name for herself as a Z list celebrity, unsuccessfully competing in TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

She was one of the many MPs embroiled in the MP’s expenses scandal back in 2009. She designated her sister’s house in London, which she shared, as her main home which allowed her to trouser £116,000 in additional allowances for her actual family home in Redditch which she claimed was her ‘second’ home.

Just look at how working class people are treated in this society: the porters who were recently described as ‘key workers’ and ‘heroes’ by the politicians work around the clock for little above the minimum wage yet they are the ones who find themselves under attack from hard-nosed bosses who want to squeeze every last drop of work out of them.

But it’s a different story for Jacqui who is once again coining it– she’s now on £50,000 for just 2.5 days a week at the trust.

Under socialism there will be no fat cat bosses on six figure salaries ‘running’ our NHS. With workers’ control and management of society all supervisors and managers will be elected and bosses on bloated salaries, many times higher than workers on the shop floor, will be a thing of the past.

Without layer upon layer of unnecessary managers and bureaucracy created by the currently fragmented and semi-privatised organisation there will be more resources for patient care and for NHS workers to receive a significant pay rise and enjoy a shorter working week without loss of pay.

If you agree with us that capitalism doesn’t offer working class people a future, and that to protect jobs and public services we need to change society and fight for socialism you should join us.

We say:

  • Support the Heartlands porters
  • Defend work/life balance, no changes to rotas without agreement
  • Fully fund the NHS- fight for an immediate 15% pay rise for all NHS workers, fill the thousands of vacant posts
  • Scrap NHS trusts- for a fully integrated, publicly owned NHS

Birmingham Socialist Party Heartlands Hospital workplace bulletin #2

Solidarity with Polish women- defend reproductive rights!

Lots of interest in the Socialist Party campaign stall at the Polish defend women’s rights demo (photo by Brum SP)

On 1 November, 600 people, mainly Polish women and their allies, gathered in Birmingham for ‘Piekło Kobiet (Women’s Hell) Polish Women on Strike’, to protest in solidary with women in Poland fighting for their reproductive rights. 

Right from the start, protesters vented their anger at the Polish government, chanting in both Polish and English. The Socialist Party’s solidarity was well received, and we were the only political group giving out leaflets (partially in Polish) displaying our key demands, many of which were accepted with enthusiasm. 

A member of our branch spoke in solidarity on the party’s behalf to the crowd, and stated our demands for free public healthcare, including safe abortions, as well as our fight for the right to make this choice free from poverty. Again, we were the only political group to speak, and this call for justice for the women of Poland was met with further chanting and gestures of solidarity. 

Mia Wroe, Birmingham Socialist Party

Below is the flyer that we distributed on the demo.

#endSARS protest- Solidarity with the Nigerian people

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Protesters in Victoria Square angry at brutal killings by police in Nigeria (photo by Brum SP)

On Saturday 24th October Birmingham Socialists supported a passionate and lively vigil and protest against the brutal killings of peaceful protesters in Lagos, Nigeria.

The organisers of the protest against Nigeria’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police units emphasised that the event was to be peaceful, with no “attacks on anybody’s character”. However, when the mic was opened, the anger burst out. 

One after another, Nigerian workers vented their rage at the brutality of the Nigerian state but many also highlighted the daily struggles and precarious situation faced by many Nigerian workers in Britain. The crowd of 200 demanded the violent and militarised Sars police unit be disbanded, and loudly sang ‘Solidarity Forever’.

Ted, one of our members, spoke from the platform to deliver a message of solidarity on behalf of the Socialist Party, warmly welcomed by the crowd. He said it was a disgrace that the Nigeria government is failing to provide the very basics of life for the majority, given the immense natural resources and human talent posessed by Nigeria and that socialist measures are needed to be taken to take society forward in Nigeria.

A spontaneous chant of “Buhari out” began after he demanded the resignation of President Mohammadu Buhari.

Hundreds of copies of our flyer which was prepared by our comrades in our sister party in Nigeria, Democratic Socialist Movement, was distributed among the crowd.

Heartlands Hospital porters’ 48-hour strike against shift changes

A striking Heartlands porter (photo by Birmingham Socialist Party)

Porters at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham struck for 48 hours on 30-31 October, in opposition to enforced shift changes where trust bosses want ‘flexible working’ at the expense of workers’ pay, health and work/life balance.

Showing how management do not need to dictate shifts, the workers’ own rota kept the upbeat pickets well staffed from 6am until late across the two days. Many car, bus and ambulance drivers honked their support.

Heartlands is now part of the University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Trust, which is chaired by Blairite ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who has prioritised appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. But the low-paid porters are refusing to dance to her tune.

Currently, the Heartlands porters work on a fixed shift system – same times and days each week – but UHB bosses are taking a one-size-fits-all approach in trying to plough through rota changes, so they match those already made at the trust’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. But what right do the bosses have to rip up longstanding agreements and make changes with no regard for the health and safety of the porters? 

Night-shift porters would now have to do more day shifts, resulting in big pay cuts. The porters could also be asked to work at any of the trusts’ four hospitals. The changes would mess up childcare arrangements too. One picket pointed out that the proposed rota would result in him not being able to see his young child for over a week. Another worker said how the bosses’ ‘consultation’ on the changes had been just a familiar box ticking effort.

UHB bosses sent Queen Elizabeth porters to Heartlands to try and limit the effect of the strike, but with limited success as they did not know the layout or systems in place. UHB also emailed the trust’s auxiliary healthcare assistants asking if anyone was available for shifts “to assist with patient transfers”.

Workers should have a say in how their shifts are allocated, so detrimental changes cannot be enforced. The NHS needs adequate funding so there is enough staff to sufficiently cover days and nights. Porters recognise there are problems within the NHS, however they are not due to the staff or current shift patterns, but to lack of investment and mismanagement. Many porters have problems with their passes as they don’t allow access for all the areas they need in order to do their job!

Further negotiations with the porters’ union Unison are set to follow the strike, with another walkout likely if management still refuses to back down. Unison needs to send reps to the other three UHB hospitals – Queen Elizabeth, Good Hope and Solihull – to call for all hospital workers not to undermine the official dispute. In addition, the union should arrange meetings with other health unions, particularly Unite, to build support for the action.

Birmingham Socialist Party says:

BUILD ON THE SUCCESSFUL OCTOBER STRIKE DAYS- ESCALATE THE ACTION UNTIL MANAGEMENT BACK DOWN!

MINIMISE STRIKEBREAKING – BUILD SOLIDARITY WITH PORTERS AND OTHER GRADES FROM THE OTHER UHB SITES WHO ARE BEING USED BY MANAGEMENT TO ATTEMPT TO BREAK THE STRIKE

Below is the flyer we distributed to pickets and other Heartlands Hospital workers when we visited the picket line:

Birmingham Covid-19 measures: Blame politicians, not workers and young people

1.6 million people in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country were banned on 16 September from visiting or hosting people indoors or in private gardens unless they are already in a support bubble.

All of the most affected places have large amounts of overcrowded housing where social distancing is impossible. They also have large numbers of precarious workers who worked throughout the pandemic because they are too scared to speak out against unhealthy working conditions and poverty. Birmingham has some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.

Despite this, the local Labour politicians who collaborated with Matt Hancock on this decision parrot Tory propaganda. Blairite Birmingham Council leader Ian Ward said data showed “the infection rate has risen mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings.”

Tory West Midlands mayor Andy Street says that workplaces and commercial premises that are allowed to remain open have been prepared in a Covid-safe way and have been examined for safe return. Yet Birmingham Council has just announced that a restaurant has had enforcement action taken against it for not having a reliable and trustworthy test-and-trace system.

The Tories are trying to regain lost political support because of their disastrous handling of the pandemic by transferring the blame to young people and fostering division between generations.

Young people won’t accept this blame lightly. Many can see the contradictions in being allowed to see your friends in the pub but not in their house, or the assumption that all workplaces and commercial premises are Covid-safe but their houses aren’t.

The difficulties in enforcing the restrictions, and impossibility of verifying membership of a support bubble, make a high degree of non-compliance likely. So does the fact that the politicians making these decisions are the same people who treat working-class people with contempt by cutting public services rather than standing up to the Tories.

We shouldn’t just hope that this will hole the Tories below the water line, but should energetically campaign for the pandemic response to be democratically controlled by local authorities and the NHS, for workers to have the final say on when a workplace is safe, and for genuine community control on any restrictions of movement.

By Clive Walder, Birmingham South West Socialist Party

Striking for jobs and journalism

It’s “nepotism not journalism” said one picket. The Bullivant Media NUJ chapel were out on their first ever strike on 25-26 August, opposing compulsory redundancies, demanding to be paid in full and wanting to protect high-quality journalism.

Warwickshire and Worcestershire newspaper publisher Bullivant Media Limited is owned and ran by the Bullivant family. One family member has started publishing their own ‘cut-and-paste’ type stories while bypassing editorial staff and undercutting news quality.

At the same time, the actual journalists – some on minimum wage – were not paid in full for three months.  Some received next to nothing and had to go to food banks as a result. There was no warning before these pay cuts – the workers just found out when they opened their bank statements!

Also undercutting news quality will be the proposed job cuts, including a compulsory redundancy that targets an NUJ member in blatant trade unionist victimisation. These cuts will result in higher workloads for the remaining staff, who are already overworked as management demand more journalistic output. Distribution staff have already been made redundant.

On 21 August, when Acas talks between the union and employer ended, Bullivant confirmed three jobs would go, including one compulsory redundancy. While better than the five posts originally under threat, the chapel remains steadfastly opposed to any compulsory lay-off.

The 18 journalists produce nine weekly freesheets, including the Coventry Observer and Redditch Standard. The chapel voted unanimously for and is 100% solid behind the four-day strike, set to continue on 1-2 September, with pickets at the company’s Redditch office.

The NUJ chapel has received solidarity and financial support from trade unionists across the UK and Ireland. Donations, labelled ‘Bullivant strike’, can be made to the NUJ strike hardship fund: sort code 60-83-01, account number 20049274, account name NUJ Manchester. Emails raising concerns and asking for the dispute to be resolved can be sent to Bullivant’s managing director – chris.bullivant@bullivantmedia.com

Black Lives Matter – learning from the Black Panthers – organisation, defence & demands

Young socialists against racism
Open air meeting – all welcome!

Birmingham meeting

Monday 15th June 6pm @ Centenary Square (in front of new library)….
(there is cover in case it does rain! …fingers crossed suns out 😊)

(This will be a socially distanced event with 2m gaps and no more than clusters of 6 – we encourage mask wearing & we have a megaphone to help ensure people can hear everything.)

Young members of the Socialist Party are hosting this open air meeting for all those wanting to discuss organisation, defence, demands and other lessons from the Black Panthers and to also discuss how we can best help mobilise for further BLM protests across Birmingham, the Black Country and surrounding areas.

This is a not a meeting claiming to be the leadership or organisers of the BLM demos, but a meet up to help bring together all those wishing to learn and discuss what we can from the Black Panthers and past struggles against racism and for black liberation. To discuss what we can do to be prepared and organised against the increasing threats from the far right, the state and police.

‘’Seize the time!” – Bobby Seale, Black Panthers
Fight racism and class inequality
Fight capitalism.
Join the socialists!

07530429441
birminghamsocialistparty@gmail.com
www.socialistparty.org.uk

Here are some links to just few bits of our recent and past work fighting racism, the far right and the state!

“We’re going to fight racism and capitalism with socialism”
Extracts from a speech by Deji Olayinka, Birmingham Socialist Party, at the protest on 7 June.
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30877

Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality by Jim Hensman, Socialist Party BAME group
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30804/22-05-2020/black-and-asian-covid-19-deaths-an-indictment-of-capitalist-inequality

Stephen Lawrence murder – the untold story
How socialists and the local community fought back against racism and the BNP
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/13470/11-01-2012/stephen-lawrence-murder-the-untold-story

Hugo Pierre asks: Reform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/2210/22-03-2007/how-was-the-slave-trade-abolished?fbclid=IwAR2k74KdgYSdRuqG_eu0FpNx2ocSYpOPrADp0dv_1Xk4h35ktuK_x9KDKHM

Windrush: Whitehall demo shames Tories and Blairites
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/keyword/Socialist_Party_and_CWI_public_figures/Hugo_Pierre/27280/02-05-2018/windrush-whitehall-demo-shames-tories-and-blairites

Who was Malcolm X?
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/23778/12-10-2016/malcolm-x-hero-of-black-liberation

1993: BNP racists forced off Brick Lane
http://m.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/778/17352/04-09-2013/1993-bnp-racists-forced-off-brick-lane

Police Racism – Caught Red-Handed
https://m.socialistparty.org.uk/html_article/2003-322-pp6

Soweto uprising 1976 – The powder keg ignites
http://m.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/445/5293/22-06-2006/soweto-uprising-1976-the-powder-keg-ignites

We support and urge everyone to build and come along to the following protests taking place across the West Midlands organised by various BLM, justice and campaign groups.

Stafford – Saturday 13th June 2pm Market Square

Worcester – Saturday 13th June details tbc

Nuneaton – Sunday 14th June 4pm @ Harefield Rd/by bus station

Birmingham – Friday 19th June 6pm @ Victoria Square – https://facebook.com/events/s/birmingham-peaceful-protest-fo/1334259970103186/?ti=icl

Wolverhampton – Sunday 28th June 3pm @ St. Peter’s Square

Let us know of any others!

George Floyd’s Life Mattered: Thousands protest in Birmingham

4June
Protesters listen to Socialist Party member and trade union activist Dave

Several thousand people joined the 4th June Birmingham protest as part of the global outrage following the racist murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Centenary Square was absolutely packed with protesters from across the city and from all over the West Midlands. Even when many marched off to demonstrate outside the police station, the square was still bursting at the seams as more arrived.

The thousands of young people on the demo showed they are not the ‘snowflake generation’, but that they want to actively fight for a better future. The deafeningly loud chants included ‘I can’t breathe’, ‘black lives matter’, ‘no justice, no peace’ and ‘Tories out!’

Hundreds listened to speakers at the Socialist Party stall. To massive applause and cheers, Deji said how socialist change can deliver justice for the victims of police brutality, Generation Windrush deportations, and the Grenfell Tower fire. Kris said how the city’s Labour council had worsened inequality in Birmingham by carrying out Tory cuts and privatisation. Firefighter Dave spoke about how racism is used to divide the working class, but that working class unity and organisation can change that. Go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/Birmingham-Socialist-Party-308234912522491/posts to see pictures and videos.

Queues were formed to take Socialist Party leaflets, placards and copies of the Socialist. See the leaflet here: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/txt/552.pdf

The Birmingham protest showed deep rooted anger at the institutional racism in both the US and UK and the unjust capitalist system that it helps protect. But the determination for struggle to fight for a new system was even clearer.

West Midlands Socialist Party public zoom meeting
Monday 8th June, 7pm
How can we build a mass movement to smash racism?
Speakers:
Jai Chavis – an activist from the US Independent Socialist Group on the mass anti-racist protests and workers’ action across the country.
Deji Olay – of Birmingham Socialist Party on the relevance of what’s taking place in the USA with the struggle against racism in Britain and the fight for socialism

If you would like to join in the meeting, text/call 07539429441 or 07447425494, or email birminghamsocialistparty@gmail.com

WEST MIDS SOCIALIST PARTY DISCUSSES FIGHT AGAINST CORONAVIRUS IN WORKPLACES

Tories killing us
On Workers’ Memorial Day, April 2020

Socialist Party members in the West Midlands met online in a forum to talk through workplace situations during the coronavirus pandemic, and discuss strategy to defend workers’ health against some truly despicable management practices from the private and public sectors.

The meeting included tax officers, teachers, union staff, probation officers, railway staff, shop and warehouse workers and more, as well as workers recently made unemployed.

We heard that some MoJ and HMRC office management have been flagrantly ignoring government advice on working from home, that most supply teachers have been furloughed but no money has been paid out from the furlough scheme yet, that rail staff have had to fight for weeks to get social distancing in work. Despite heaps of praise for shop workers by their employers, supermarket upper management have utterly failed in protecting their staff by denying them PPE and anything close to social distancing.

Success in health and safety has only been won by the organised determined action of workers. Vigilant campaigns have ensured adequate PPE, social distancing, remote working, and even furloughing at 100% pay.

In an incredible success of worker action, one non-unionised office in the West Mids organised their own rotas to ensure skeleton staff to keep the office functioning, keeping the majority of workers home and the rest safely distanced. Management there had insisted they would all need to be in office, but the workers forced the managers to adopt their rota model!

Many workers have successfully struggled to ensure their safety from coronavirus in the West Midlands and across the country, but too often this has been with the absence of trade union leaders.

The leaderships of some of the biggest unions in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of workers have failed to lead the fight to defend their members’ safety. In this meeting Socialist Party members spoke out against union right wingers and careerists who have been far too concerned with bureaucracy and stalled negotiations with the government and employers, risking workers’ safety week after week in a rapidly changing situation.

RMT right to strike
RMT union members demonstrating against Boris Johnson’s threat to the right to strike in December 2019, photo JB

During and after the coronavirus crisis there will be massive attacks on workers as the capitalist class seek to recuperate their losses and minimise any increased consciousness among workers. Events so far have only been a small test in terms of what fighting leadership is needed from trade unions as the core organisations to defend the working class.

The Socialist Party branches and union caucuses continue to meet online regularly, discussing political and workplace situations and organising for militant working class action.

We fight for socialism -for workers’ democratic control and management over the economy- and will push the case for a determined fight for socialist change within the trade unions. Only the working class finally taking control will end the endless battles with bosses that workers face even during a global pandemic!

JOIN US! – IT’S EASY TO GET INVOLVED!