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Socialist Party Leicester

News from Leicester

March 2004 News - Updated 8/3/2004

On this page:

Hypocrisy challenged on International Women's Day

Leicester University students take action against Fees

Leicester College strike suspended after concessions won

PCS strike report

Report of Stop the War conference

Other news:

Liberal Tory council push through cuts

Murdered by profit

Hypocrisy challenged on International Women's Day:

In the same way that the mainstream capitalist politicians mark holocaust memorial day whilst at the same time attacking asylum seekers with the most draconian measures and using the most inflammatory language, thereby creating the conditions for the growth in support for today's fascist parties, so too do they hypocritically celebrate International Women's Day whilst cutting vital resources for women.

In Leicester the official, so called 'LeicestHERday' event organised to celebrate International Women's Day was attended by various council aficionado - those responsible for the recent budget that cut funding to four women's groups in the city. Patricia Hewitt MP - the Minister for Women was also in attendance.

The four axed groups, Turning Point, Shama, Ajani and Bhagini women's centres rightly boycotted the event. In a letter to Patricia Hewitt and the LeicestHERday organising committee they wrote "We express our disappointment and anguish at your decision to continue with the celebration of the International Women's Day. We feel under the present circumstances when the local city council has cut our services, there is very little to celebrate."

Speaking to the Leicester Mercury Elaine Clowes, Turning Point's development co-ordinator, said her project faced collapse and 22 staff faced redundancy. "We are going to lose essential services such as baby milk clinics, pregnancy testing, 40-plus and 60-plus groups, counselling and crèches."

The local Liberal / Tory council and MP Patricia Hewitt are hypocrites. Whilst they are more than happy to gain the good publicity from the official event, the council cuts of £1.2 million have further set back the position of women in the city. Patricia Hewitt is not directly responsible for the Liberal / Tory cuts in Leicester it's true, however it is her New Labour Government who have under funded the Council and New Labour in power have done nothing to seriously tackle the many problems facing working class women.

For us in the Socialist Party International Women's Day is not per se about celebrating women or even women's' achievements. This is left to the capitalist politicians who strip the day of all meaning. For us it is a celebration specifically of women's' struggles.

Whilst the council can cut the budgets of these four centres they can not stop the women involved from fighting against the cuts and in doing so becoming politically active. For us this is the real meaning of the day. The Socialist Party will continue to struggle alongside such women's groups and each year on International Women's' Day we will also carry on the tradition of remembering the past struggles of women.

CWI statement on international women's day www.socialistworld.net

NO To Top Up Fees

The Labour government is proposing £3,000 a year "Top up Fees" for University Students. Universities will be able to charge what they like up to £3,000 a year. This will stop many from going to University and introduce a market in higher education. You will go to a university based on your ability to pay!

On Wednesday 25 February a day of action is took place. University lecturers, members of AUT took strike action. Students held a protest against Fees.  Alex Morgan, Leicester Socialist Students reports

On the national day of NUS action on Wednesday the 25th of February, the University of Leicester staged its first genuine local protest action against tuition fees. Between 150 and 200 students assembled on the lawn outside the vice chancellor’s office where they were joined by striking AUT lecturers.

A member of the NUS executive spoke, as well as an AUT member, a NATFHE member from Leicester College (who are on an indefinite strike) and Sara Hamblin from Socialist Students (ironically, all the speakers used the Socialist Students megaphone, complete with party logos!). the planned “disobedience” then took place, consisting of students throwing over 24,000 specially printed monopoly money notes, bearing the face of the vice chancellor Professor Burgess and the phrase “you wanted all our money…” students also threw flour over the grass, the front of the building, and over the cars of the vice chancellor and his cronies.

The original plan had been to occupy the VC’s office, but the university had got wind of this so had the building locked down tight, instead we ran across campus and staged a sit down in the lobby of the Charles Wilson building, where an NUS open day was taking place! We stayed there for a while, chanting and singing, and I was interviewed over the phone for Radio Leicester news, identifying myself as a member of Socialist Students.

When we began to see diminishing returns of the impact we were having there, we decided it was time to move back outside and block the roads leading into the university.

We turned back many vehicles over a period of about half an hour before the police arrived (in four squad cars!) to move us off the highway. They showed no respect for the protesting students, threatening the union president and myself with arrest if we did not comply with their orders. To wrap up the days action we moved back in front of the Vice Chancellor’s office, intending not to let him leave until he agreed to speak to us. He eventually allowed a delegation of two students inside to discuss our grievances.

We made a large impact on the demonstration, our Socialist Student’s banner was ever-present, we made sure every student saw one of our leaflets and sold six copies of The Socialist. I believe if it were not for the constant demands and agitation of Socialist Students for more action against fees, this protest would not of taken place. Our society has been the only group consistently calling for regular, local and radical demonstrations at Leicester, and we are now seeing the impact of our hard work.

More info on ISR national site

Wave of strikes

Around the country there is the beginning of a revival in the Trades Union movement. Evidence for this is the number of strikes taking place in Leicester. We have reports from Leicester College and the Dept of Work and Pensions action below.

Leic College strike suspended after management concessions
Leicester College Lecturers who had been on strike for four weeks in defence of union rights and their conditions have suspended their action.
The strike was a result of the management attempting to impose a contract without negotiations. It was a bitter struggle against a hard faced management who initially refused to talk to the union. In the face of determined strike action the management have made some concessions. However there are still important unresolved issues and the NATFHE branch say they “agreed a limited suspension of the strike for a period of four weeks to see if negotiations could bring a satisfactory settlement.”
Strike committee member, Siobhan Logan said: “Management have shifted significantly on a couple of issues: They’ve agreed to negotiate a contract for all staff and re-introduced a weekly limit of working hours. Members only agreed to a suspension to see how the talks go with management and will come out again if necessary. There is still a terrific mood to fight”
There has been a tremendous amount of solidarity from the movement, including collections for the strike fund. NATFHE say that “strikers are having pay deducted both this month and next so the hardship fund will be needed for at least that period. Once our dispute has reached a successful conclusion, any money left in the fund will be used for other workers in struggle.”
 NATFHE Leicester College Strike Fund. NATFHE Birmingham Office 2nd Floor, Alpha Tower, Suffolk Street, Queensway, Birmingham B1 1TT
Leic College NATFHE website:

Full background and earlier reports are here.

Workers in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) took strike action on Mon and Tues 16 and 17 February. A Leicester Socialist Party member in the PCS union reports from the picket line:

Despite all of the management propaganda that even Goebbels would have been proud of, and the fact that the Union was not allowed to use the e-mail facility to communicate on any matters to do with industrial action the response from members was emphatic. One of the highlights on the second day was 4 casual staff from Charles Street Jobcentre Plus office who went to work on the first day of action decided to stand on the picket line on the second day. They said they didn’t realise that pickets were actually decent people just defending other staff and not the aggressive animals management would have them believe. This was very brave of them as casual staff in DWP can have their contract revoked at any time.
I was told that management stated that only a 3rd of staff stayed away from work on both days. Nobody actually knows where management pluck these figures from but from the picket lines I attended it was clear to see that only minimal staff attended work and these were mainly non-members. There were only 3 out of 80 benefit processors in and none of the offices had any computer support officers. Management had to draft in the scabs from other offices to make sure they could at least open Wellington Street but the service would have been minimal as many of the staff would have been given jobs in which they had no experience like many of the staff who have only been working for the department for 2 weeks who were doing customer service duties on the phones sections.
Hopefully this will send a message to our draconian management that they may have severely slashed official trade union time given to reps, but they won’t break the solidarity shown by our members time and time again on disputes.

More background on the dispute on the Socialist Party home page www.socialistparty.org.uk

Leicester SP member Scott went to the recent Stop the War Coalition Conference in London. here is his report:

Over a year has passed since the biggest anti-war demonstration in UK history. A little more than a year ago we saw Blair take an unwilling country to war, even though a lot has happened during this year the StWC (Stop the War Coalition). This year conference still managed to pull in between four and five hundred people as well as the mainstream news media.

Andrew Murray the present chair of stop the war gave the opening remarks and really set the tone of the whole conference tell the assembled masses that it was time to move on, time for Tony Blair to move on. He also paid tribute not only to the people in the room and to the wider movement but to all the millions who marched on any of the numerous demos last year. He called for the demonstration on march the 20th, the anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Iraq, to be huge to show Blair that the war was still an issue and that we haven't forgotten his actions.

Linsay German Convener of stop the war then spoke about how the Hutton enquiry had been a whitewash and how it was likely that the Butler enquire was likely to be the same, She reminded us, as if it was needed, about the allegations from the former culture secretary Clair Short that the secret service had bugged not only Kulfi Annan, the general secretary of the United Nations, but also the weapon inspectors themselves. She also reminded us of Richard Pale, a Right winger from the US who has said that this was an illegal war.
She also said that a number of senior Labour members had said that their was no serious democratic debate before going to war. Despite what some in the right wing media would have us believe the attacks are mostly not from Al-Qaida but from ordinary citizens within the country who have just had enough of the occupation and want to hit back. The longer they stay the more likely it is that the country would break up and be rocked by civil war. Also she asked in reference to the racist statements from the former Labour MP turned talk-show host, Kilroy Silk what have TV hosts ever done for us?

Motion 15 (From Milton Keynes STW) was withdrawn in favour of motion 11 (From Legal action against the war)

Motion 19 (From Brent Stop the War) was withdrawn in favour of motion 17 (From the Steering committee) And Motion 23 (From West Somerset Peace Group) was withdrawn in favour of motion 13 (London Region CND)

Then the main Debate and reports from local groups started with guest speakers Tony Benn and Salma Yaqoob.

Then we had a guest speaker Tony Benn (LP) who- apart from calling for Labour party and the UN to be reclaimed -gave a good speech. He pointed out that it's a lot harder for people in the US to oppose the war than here, as in the US they have the PATRIOT act. which allows the FBI to even find out what Library books people are reading!

Salma Yaqoob (Birmingham STW) reported that Hutton backfired and Butler was a waste of time, and we should have a transparent public enquiry. The UN is a waste of time as it supported sanctions. Since the US/UK occupation 1,000 kids per month have died- killed by cluster bombs, and our money is paying for the bombs. She also reported that the only way to stop terrorism was by stop taking part in it. She said we should not let them think we had forget the war. We should use march the 20th demo to re-take the streets and that we should keep the momentum going. The personal touch is important and a better world is possible. It would cost only $15bn for all the world to live in safety and comfort and that at present we spend over $380bn on Arms.

There where five motions opposed by the Steering Committee
Motion 8 From Australians Against the war
Motion 14 From Action for UN Renewal
Motion 18 From the green party
Motion 32 From Workers power
and Motion 34 From Revolution

(Full details of the Motions that where passed and amendments are available on request and should be on the stop the war web site shortly)

After lunch there where two more sessions "Who got it wrong the BBC, Intelligence Service or Blair" with Jeremy Dear (NUJ General Secretary), David Shayler (Imprisoned MI5 Agent) and George Galloway (MP) and "Have we halted the neo conservative agenda?" With Jeremy Corbyn (MP) and John Rees (SWP) then Andrew Murray summed up

The only other points worth noting are the procedure confusion over amendments from the floor and Motion 11 from Legal action against the war. This said that StWC would attempt to lay criminal charges of  "Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" .

Earlier stories:

Liberal Cuts in Leicester

Socialist vote in Braunstone, May 2003

Anti-war protests

Massive schools strike in Leicester against the war

For more info on what we've been up to in the past read our archive page

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