Our colleagues in Teesside Unite Community Branch have organised two demonstrations against sanctions. The first is on December 3rd, starting at 12 noon. It will take place outside the Job Centre in Corporation Street
The second demonstration takes place on Saturday 6th December. This also starts at 12 noon and is a march starting at Middlesbrough Town Hall
If you would like to attend either event please contact the Community Centre or just turn up on the day
Middlesbrough Council is facing the cuts axe again as Ray Mallon unveiled his proposals for another string of cost savings.
At Middlesbrough Town Hall Mayor Mallon set out his proposals for the budget for 2015/16.
Among the key proposals raised were:
:: The budget slashed by £14.1m;
:: 770 jobs affected – including 220 job losses, 350 staff transferring from Mouchel to council and 200 transferring out;
:: Council tax will rise by up to 2%;
:: Funding for books in libraries to be cut by half;
:: More automated systems, fewer staff;
:: Charging for Newport Road bus lane misuse to generate an income of £30,000;
:: Removing funding for speech and language therapy in schools – making schools are responsible for the cost. A saving of £30,000;
> Which will just be transfered to the schools, who can’t afford it either.
:: No subsidies for bus services 12, 28, 29A, 537, 603, 605, 606 and 607.
The budget comprises a list of proposed 45 cuts and charges to generate income for the local authority.
There will now be a consultation period until December 3.
There will be another full council meeting on December 10 regarding the consultation process.
Staff will begin a consultation period regarding their jobs tomorrow morning.
The latest savings come after £15m of cuts in the current financial year.
A further £40m had been slashed from spending in the previous three years, which has seen community centres and libraries closed and services such as grass cutting and street cleaning reduced.
There have been 728 job losses at the council so far – with a further 600 job losses expected between now and 2019/20.
Mr Mallon added that most job losses would be down to voluntary redundancy and retirement.
> Even if they were all met by voluntary redundancy and retirement, that’s still 1328 jobs that no longer exist.
He added that the council would endeavour to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 22 Oct 2014
Beggars can’t be choosers, they simply have to go – that is the stark warning issued by Ray Mallon.
The Middlesbrough Mayor said he will “drive all the beggars out of the town” saying they are “all criminals”.
He made the statement at an Executive meeting held at Middlesbrough Town Hall yesterday.
“Every single one of them is a criminal and diversified from crime into begging because it pays well and the public are giving them money because they are intimidating,” he said.
“There are about 16 beggars in the town now.”
He recalled when he first came into office and made a similar bid to drive out beggars.
“Soon after I was elected (in 2002) there were 28 beggars in the town centre,” he said.
“People were being put off coming here to shop. By 2004 the beggars had been run out of town.”
Mr Mallon took direct action against one beggar – standing next to him and telling shoppers not to give him any money until he got fed up and moved away.
He took similar action against a beggar in York walking up to him and asking him for a pound to the man’s surprise.
“I was wearing my shorts and my cap so I didn’t look like the Middlesbrough Mayor,” he said.
“He said no it’s the other way round. I said ‘Not today, you give money to me’. He said ‘I’m not putting up with this’ and walked off and a woman shouted to me ‘It’s Robocop!’”
He said the problem has crept up again and blamed the downturn of the local economy.
“The local authority must take this subject very seriously and do everything in its power to eradicate this problem,” he said.
> Eradicating the problem apparently means eradicating the results of the problem, then ? Dont attempt to change the policies, just chase the victims of them out of town.
“From now on I don’t want the public to give them any money.”
> Or what ? Surely that choice belongs to the giver ?
He highlighted the corner of Southfield Road and Linthorpe Road outside Sainsbury’s as a new troublespot.
He has given Cllr Steve Bloundele, Executive member for commercial assets and income, the task of meeting with officers and the police to tackle the issue.
“I want this local authority with the police to be robust in this.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 Sept 2014
Puplic services ground to a halt across Wearside yesterday as workers walked out in support of the strike. Schools, libraries, leisure centres, museums and other public buildings were shut.
Pickets were in place outside Sunderland Civic Centre.
John Kelly, secretary of Unite’s Sunderland City Council Branch, said: “Unite is proud to be taking part in strike action alongside our fellow trade unions.
“This is a fight for better public services, and for fair pay for those who work hard to deliver those services.
“Council workers have been targeted to bear the brunt of the austerity measures that have been imposed by millionaire cabinet ministers since 2010. Unite fully understand that Labour-run councils like Sunderland City Council are the scapegoats when implementing this Coalition Government’s austerity measures.
“Local government workers and the communities they deliver services to believe that local government workers should have fair pay, not poverty pay.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 11 July 2014
SOUTH TYNESIDE –
There were pickets outside South Shields Town Hall, the town’s Middlefields refuse depot and at the JobCentre in Chapter Row, and more than half of schools in the borough closed for the day.
All the borough’s libraries were also shut, and all council refuse collections were cancelled, and the crematorium on John Reid Road, South Shields, closed for the day.
Despite the widespread disruption, Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, believes the public remain generally supportive of the action – and the reasons behind it.
Horn-beeping motorists expressed support for the dozen or so trade unionists gathered outside the town’s hall’s Beach Road entrance yesterday and, also on hand to show his support was Labour councillor Ernest Gibson, Mayor of South Tyneside last year.
There were pickets from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Harton Technology College in South Shields.
The school was closed to pupils, although members of other teaching unions and non-union staff did go into work.
COUNTY DURHAM –
Striking workers picketed outside council offices, job centres, tax offices and courts across County Durham and North Yorkshire.
Workers from government agencies including the Student Loans Company in Darlington, the Passport Office in Durham City and the HM Revenue & Customs offices in Thornaby took part in the industrial action.
In County Durham, more than 130 schools closed for the day, although only a handful of Darlington’s schools shut.
Twenty North Yorkshire schools closed and a further 50 suffered disruption.
On Teesside about 35 schools in Stockton were closed or partially-closed.
A survey commission by Unite on the eve of the strike found that 50 per cent of people in the North of England agreed that the local government workers’ call for an £1 per-hour pay rise was justified.
“The poll confirms that people across the North support workers who are fighting to end poverty pay in our local councils,” said Mike Routledge, Unite local government officer for the North-East.
Source – Northern Echo, 10 July 2014
Picket lines could be seen around the town with the most prominent outside of the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool.
Other’s took place outside Hartlepool Borough Council-run buildings in Church Street, and also in Wesley Square, outside the Jobcentre.
Councillor Stephen Thomas, Labour representative for the De Bruce ward, was also on the picket line to offer his support.
Coun Thomas, who works for Health Watch Hartlepool but took the day off to take part in the action, said: “I’m here to basically show my support to the strikers because I think that the way the Government is treating government sector workers is absolutely appalling.
“The one per cent pay rise they’ve had in the last four years equates to a 14 per cent cut in real terms.”
Teachers were also included in the strike with a number of Hartlepool schools closed for the day.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) also joined forces in the strike action, with crews from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Stranton Fire Station forming a protest.
Brian Gibson, the FBU chairman for Cleveland, said: “The action we took part in is particularly important because all the unions have got together to show our strength of feeling at getting one per cent pay rises. The FBU’s argument is also with the Government over pensions.”
He added: “We’ve had great public support, all we’ve had is support.
“We’re so pleased.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 11 July 2014
Outside Middlesbrough Town Hall this morning, many office workers arriving for work crossed the picket lines.
Dawn Nicholson, Unison Area Organiser said: “It’s going well.
“Some people are crossing the picket lines but a lot of them are employed by Mouchel.
“Mouchel workers haven’t been balloted and can’t strike but many have signed our petition.”
However as one woman made her way into work she answered calls for her to strike saying: “People are still need to make a living.”
GMB union, shop steward, Brian Foulger, said: “We’re quite surprised by how many people, even management, have gone out on strike.
“Since 2010, local government have been putting money away for a rainy day. Well, it’s pouring down.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 July 2014
A council meeting descended into chaos last night when two members of the public began filming inside Middlesbrough Town Hall.
The meeting was halted just minutes after the new chairman was agreed as Cllr Bob Kerr.
Made aware of the filming taking place, he asked the men to cease filming.
When the men refused to put down the cameras and stop filming, two police officers entered the council chamber to speak to the men.
The chairman then suspended the meeting and left the chamber.
After several minutes he returned to ask everyone to evacuate the building and congregate in the quadrangle outside.
After a 30 minute delay, councillors, the media and members of the public – except the men with cameras who were prevented from re-entering the building by the police – returned and the meeting resumed.
Beechwood ward Cllr Joan McTigue said: “It is a public meeting and councillors themselves tweet away to people outside – what is being said and by whom etc. Therefore I see no problem with it being filmed and put into the public domain.”
Last June Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published a guide which states councils should allow the public to film, blog and tweet council meetings.
But the chairman said: “According to 25.2 of the Constitution no photography or filming can take place. The chair has the authority according to the Constitution of asking and if necessary forcing anyone doing so to leave.”
When the meeting resumed, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier proposed an amendment regarding allowances that every councillor in the authority should take a 5% cut for the next two years.
Mayor Ray Mallon accused him of speaking to the press saying it was “narrow-minded”.
He said: “If I had my way I would give them a bit of a pay rise. A 5% cut would be minimal, it would not be a pin prick in relation to the savings.”
The majority voted against the amendment.
Middlesbrough Conservative leader Chris Hobson submitted a proposal to alter the new senior management structure which she said would save the local authority £363,000. Mr Mallon said he would meet with her to discuss it further. Six voted for it, 34 against.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 May 2014