Category Archives: Opinions

Food for thought and action

Notts SOS statement on forthcoming co-ordinated strike action on 30th November 2011

Notts Save Our Services supports the 30th November Public Sector co-ordinated strike action and we support all public sector workers who take strike action.

The Con-Dem Government proposals are for public sector workers to pay more, work longer and receive less. The Government wants to privatise public services. The Government and the private sector see public sector pensions as a barrier because employees transferred out of the public sector must be offered “broadly comparable” pension schemes under the Fair Deal on Pensions. That is why George Osborne wants to end the Fair Deal on pensions. The strike against attacks on pensions represents a strike to defend public services and is therefore in the interests of all of us (and our families) who use or will use public services.

Public Sector pensions are neither “unfair” nor “gold plated” and have not been the cause of hardship in our communities or in the private sector. The unfairness lies between the rich and the poor, with the richest in society receiving pensions averaging £175,000 a year, 97% of executive directors in FTSE 350 companies having company-sponsored pension arrangements (compared to one third of private sector workers), and with most executives able to retire at 60. This is on top of growing income inequality with top incomes growing by 64.2 % over the past decade while average earners’ income has increased by 7.2 % so that at the present time the total income of the richest 10% of the population is higher than the combined income of the poorest 50% of the population.

Public sector pensions are not “unsustainable” and in March 2011 George Osborne himself told parliament that cutting public service pensions is about “filling the hole in the public finances”, demonstrating that these attacks have nothing to do with demographics and people living longer but are further attempts to make working people pay for a problem that they did not create.

The suggestion that strike action is falling into a Government “trap,” as Labour Party Ed Balls has stated, can only undermine the strike and does not serve the interests of the public. We call on everyone to respect the Unions’ decisions and to wholeheartedly back co-ordinated strike action on November 30th.

Notts SOS values and respects our public services and those who work in the public sector. We acknowledge that they carry out some of the most important work in our society, including nursing, midwifery, care of those of us who are elders, vulnerable, have disabilities or are children; providing emotional as well as practical support and often working more than their paid hours. We defend their right to take strike action.

Notts Save Our Services statement on the August Riots

Notts SOS recognises that the causes of the riots and looting has to be
seen in a context of mass youth unemployment, public sector cuts and
police harassment.

Whilst the motives of individuals might vary, we do not doubt that
attacks on jobs and public services and a grossly unequal society within
a system which depends on persuading people that they must demand more
and more material goods to stimulate “growth”, and yet which denies some
people the means to access even a decent living, is a society which
cannot prosper.

Cutting public sector jobs, reducing social support and community
initiatives, making the vulnerable even more so, whilst allowing the
wealthy causers of the economic crisis to go unpunished, contributed to
the recent disturbances.

Actions to prevent further similar disturbances would need to be wide
ranging and involve deep seated change, but would be aimed at creating a
fairer society in which everyone can be treated justly, play a part,
live decently, and feel self respect and respect for others.

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts have also produced a statement which can be found here:

Bombardier demonstration in Derby on Saturday 23rd July 2011

Unions representing the Bombardier train-manufacturing workforce in Derby are organising a demonstration on Saturday 23 July in protest at plans to axe over 1400 jobs as a result of the Thameslink carriage contract being awarded elsewhere. This will affect many other jobs in Derby at a very difficult time and may also threaten the long term prospects of other workers at Bombardier.

Saturday 23 July. Assemble 10:00, Bass Recreation Ground, The Cock Pitt, Derby DE1 2
March to rally at Cathedral Green for 12 noon.

Unite, RMT, TSSA and GMB are amongst the unions that will support the demonstration. RMT point out that First Capital Connect workers will be affected as well as those in Derby. The contract is at the ‘preferred bidder’ stage, meaning the final contract has not been signed off, so pressure is aimed at getting the government to reconsider. Furthermore, The Climate Alliance is calling upon environmental activists, campaigners and trade unionists to join the demonstration and have produced a leaflet which makes the link between climate change and the need to invest in railways.

Members of Notts SOS will travel to Derby on Saturday to support the workers (by train, as far as possible!).

Background: Bombardier job cuts spark fears for Derby factory.

Bombardier, without the £1.4bn Thameslink contract, plans to cut 446 permanent jobs and 983 temporary contract staff at the Derby site. Privatisation of British Rail in the 1980s all but halted ordering of new rolling stock, which ultimately led to the almost complete collapse of the industry in the UK. The Derby factory was formerly British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) and is now the only major rolling stock manfacturer in the UK.

Further details, including car and coach parking, from the Unite website: Support the march and rally to save Bombardier

Some further thoughts – based on National Shop Steward Network leaflet and some added info

British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) was a state owned company.
It was privatised in 1989 by a purchase from British Rail which according to ABB’s website comprised a consortium of ABB (40%), Trafalgar House (40%) and management/employees (20%).
In 1992, ABB increased its shareholding from 40% to 85% and after various changes of ownership, the Canadian multi-national company, Bombardier now owns the Litchurch Lane works in Derby.
The jobs massacre at Bombardier will devastate Derby and Britain’s manufacturing capacity if it is allowed to go ahead. The Derby Evening Telegraph reported “that Bombardier’s Derby factory could be the epicentre of an economic earthquake that could level many other smaller firms”.

A few months ago, Cameron and the ConDem cabinet came to Derby to pledge support for manufacturing jobs. George Osborne claimed the private sector would ‘take up the slack’ of 750,000 public sector job cuts. If they believed it, they do not know what they are talking about or as part of their agenda to increase profits for the capitalist class, they like to think of low paid jobs in non-unionised workplaces

The loss of the ‘Thameslink’ train-building contract threatens up to 20,000 jobs in the region. For every worker employed by Bombardier, at least 4 more jobs are supported further down the supply chain and then there are the job losses in the service sector. And these are skilled, well-paid, unionised jobs with proper apprenticeships and pensions. The loss of both direct and indirect jobs throughout the supply and support industries, as well as legal, technical, training, research and development services, even down to local shops and restaurants will devastate the East Midlands. As Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary says: “This act of political vandalism will impact on every single person in the area”.
More unemployment, more poverty, more desperation will be the immediate results of this decision unless there is a fightback

It is nonsense for the government to suggest that awarding the contract to Siemens represents “best value for money”. The huge long-term cost of a jobs massacre is loss of taxes and increased reliance on state benefits. The British Government ignores the fact it can include the social and economic impact in its tendering criteria as it does not care for the consequences of its big business, profit driven agenda.

Both the current ConDem and previous Labour governments – despite hand-wringing about job losses – have slavishly allowed big business in Europe to dictate the economic agenda. The EU rules “allowing” the ConDems to hang Bombardier workers out to dry are the same ones used by the last Labour government to start stealthily privatising the postal service.
And these are the same EU rules used to pitch us into “a race to the bottom”. It has been reported that the Bombardier bid is cheaper than Siemens on train design/build costs. However, on maintenance Bombardier were marginally more expensive over the 30-year lifetime of the contract because Siemens do not recognise trade unions in its British train maintenance workshops.

Bombardier’s train technology is fully proven and compliant and their B5000 bogies are tried and tested. Siemens are trying to develop their own bogies and want to lure Bombardier procurement and compliance teams and engineers to work for them (in Germany).

In the last five years Germany has built 97% of its trains domestically, France 100% and Spain 90%. British train building has almost been destroyed by nearly two decades of rail privatisation.

So what can be done? We need to unite around clear demands to support Bombardier workers and their communities.
• The government must immediately review and reverse its decision to award “preferred bidder” status to Siemens over Bombardier for the ‘Thameslink’ contract. All jobs must b defended. .
• To protect the future of train building in Derby and the UK, Bombardier’s Litchfield Lane plant should be re-nationalised with democratic involvement of Bombardier’s workforce and shop stewards’ committee, not cut adrift in the global market place. Rolls Royce was nationalised by a Tory government in 1971 when it faced a financial crisis and remained in public ownership until 1987, when it was privatised by Margaret Thatcher.
• Our trade unions and the TUC must lead industrial and political action to save the future of train building in Derby. We support the call for a massive demonstration and rally in support of Bombardier workers at the TUC Conference in London this September. We support the call of Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey at the Durham Miners’ Gala for direct action to save these jobs if necessary by occupation as carried out by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1973.
• The people of Derby and surrounding areas are marching with Bombardier workers. This must be the start of a massive campaign to protect jobs and stop the bosses riding roughshod over us.

Over 1200 march in Nottingham during a great show of solidarity on the June 30th coordinated strike day

Nottingham coordinated strike day 30th June 2011

Nottingham coordinated strike day 30th June 2011

Workers, students, unemployed, a wide spectrum of people of Nottingham City and the County including families with their children joined the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), University and College Union (UCU) and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at the Forest Recreation Ground in a large show of solidarity against pension threats, job losses and pay cuts in the public sector.

These pension threats are part of the ongoing attack on the wages of workers whether immediate or deferred and the push to make us all work harder and longer to pay for the profit losses of the banks with their market manipulations. A crisis not of our making. All this while the rich are all but unaffected, the banks have been given billions, and corporate interests are taking the piss with massive tax dodges.

March, Rally & Meeting

Amongst a sea of trade union banners, trade unionists, services users and those threatened or already suffering from service cuts marched to Trinity Square. Anti-cuts activists involved with Notts SOS were prominent in the events. Trade union activists then marched to the Albert Hall for an indoor rally and campaign meeting. Speeches in Trinity Square continued to outline the threat to education, the NHS and local services from government policies. At County Hall, Notts Unison members and supporters protested against cuts and axing of vital services supporting people in the County.

At the same time as the Albert Hall meeting, after packing up began at Trinity Sq., Notts UnCut visited the usual targets of tax-avoiding companies in the city centre to protest against the hypocrisy of companies like Boots who now have their HQ abroad to avoid tax. All this whilst the Chamber of Commerce of Derby and Notts has the audacity to complain about the loss to UK PLC of one strike day. Especially galling as this was the same day that Lloyds TSB bank said they aim to axe 15,000 more jobs (on top of 27,500 losses already announced) as part of a review to get them back into the black – showing again that it is workers who are paying for the crisis, while it was reported by the Daily Telegraph that “Investors welcomed the results of the review sending Lloyds share price up more than 6pc in early trading to 47.17p”, showing which side private investors are on.

Notts Cold Cuts

Earlier in the morning, from 8am, Notts UnCut and Notts Save Our Services activists, including some individuals from unions not on strike today but supporting the strike action, went round pickets at Job Centres, Courts and the Tax Office handing out sandwiches, cake and chocolate, giving a boost to the official pickets.

The night before, other activists reported having superglued the locks to the doors of Job Centre Plus on Canal Street, and also Atos Origin on Stoney Street (who carry out health examinations which are being used to carry out government policy to kick a lot of disability claimants off vital benefits). Elsewhere in the UK, activists made the links between unemployed struggles and the PCS dispute.

Some of the high points: It a was a large and passionate march from the Forest and families with children who were missing school due to the teachers’ strike came along to support their school teachers. Royal Mail workers refused to cross picket lines. Workers asked for union application forms on pickets. Lots of honking of horns supporting the pickets and march, including bus drivers.

Some of the low points: At one point picket supporters were chased and shouted at by G4S security staff at the Tax Office for going off the right-of-way through the middle of the office grounds in order to find the strikers. Then at Castle College we heard that Teaching Assistants were disgracefully covering lecturers’ classes. Elsewhere some individuals seemed to have fallen for politicians’ rhetoric about pensions and against strike action.

But this will not be the end of the strikes and other actions against austerity. In fact action against destruction of the NHS will take place next week on Tuesday 5th (NHS founding anniversary) and a major day of action on Saturday 9th of July. Activity on the 5th will be in North Notts as well as Nottingham. Full details elsewhere on the site or coming soon. The next Notts SOS meeting is on Monday 4th July at the usual venue – YMCA International Community Centre on Mansfield Road, starting 7.30pm. Come and get involved with saving your services!

Other reports/photos: See also UCU Castle College picket photos on facebook.

Notts SOS Newsletter no.6 – June 2011 – Save Our NHS, Hayward House success, Forests campaign, Notts Uncut, ATOS, Office Angels

The latest Notts SOS newsletter (no.6) for June 2011 covers the recent ‘Save Our NHS’ protests at the government ‘listening events’ in Nottingham and Notts, the outstanding success of the campaign to save the Hayward House Daycare unit on the City Hospital site, and update on the Sherwood Forest campaign, sustained protest in the city about corporate tax avoidance by Notts Uncut, plus action against ATOS healthcare over their medical tests and Office Angels over their treatment of temp worker. We also look ahead to our local NHS day of action on 9th July and the widespread coordinated strike action by UCU/NUT/ATL/PCS unions and maybe others on June 30th.

Read notts_sos_newsletter_no_6_june_2011 [Word Version]

Read notts_sos_newsletter_no_6_june_2011 [PDF Version]

See also: Diary Dates for May and June.

NOTTS SOS Newsletter No. 3 – February 2011 – out now!

See also: events diary.

A weekend of anti-cuts activity in Nottingham & Notts (5th/6th February 2011) – Libraries, Shelters & Housing, Vodafone

Yesterday, Saturday 5th February, as part of a countrywide protest against library closures ‘Voices for the Library’, library read-ins and other protests were taking place in Beeston, Carlton, Chilwell, Stapleford, Sneinton and Toton. In London at New Cross one library was occupied last night. Read more in Evening Post prior to Nottingham and Notts library events.

Carlton Library, Station Road, Carlton - 5th Feb 2011

Say No To Cuts stall, Market Square, Nottingham, 5/2/2011

Also on the same day in the Market Square, Nottingham, a ‘Say No To Cuts’ stall was run by some of those involved with local homeless shelters and women’s refuges that are facing huge cuts or closure, also highlighting cuts to Refugee Action and housing support for vulnerable young people and adults. Leaflets and petitions were used to encourage more people to get involved. A set of letters written by local homeless teenagers was on display, explaining the vital importance to them of the housing and shelter facilities in Notts that are threatened by funding cuts. Campaign organisers described the cuts as ‘disgusting’ and vowed to prevent a return to large numbers of people sleeping in city centre doorways.

Update post-event. See some photos on Facebook:

On Sunday 7th February 2011 at 1pm a UKUncut protest is due to take place at the Vodafone store on Clumber Street. Vodafone was let off billions off its tax bill by HM Revenue and Customs, money which could have been used to avoid public sector cuts. This is also the next local demonstration since one week ago it became clear that police had used CS spray and hospitalised UKUncut activists at the Oxford Road, London branch of Boots (who are another subject of this ongoing campaign against corporate tax avoidance).

Today’s UKUncut protest in Nottingham makes a further link with the situation in Egypt where revolutionaries are being subjected to CS gas and worse. According to the Financial Times, both France Telecom and Vodafone transmitted pro-government text messages and “Some texts on Vodafone’s network appeared to urge Mr Mubarak’s supporters to confront the anti-government protesters.” According to Mark Steel, writing on Egypt in the Independent newspaper last week, “The Big Society taking place in Egypt means for a moment that the place has become the most democratic country on the planet.” UK UNCUT will therefore be highlighting demands that Vodafone pay their taxes and that they do not support dictators.

See also: Report from a previous UKUncut protest in Nottingham, 30th Jan 2011.

ukuncut demo photo nottingham

Previous demonstration outside Vodafone in Nottingham

Lots more photos on Notts SOS Facebook:

What’s coming up next week? Take a look at

UNISON slams decision to ban march by Tory controlled Rushcliffe Borough Council – Press Release 3rd Feb 2011

Press Release 03/02/2011: UNISON slams decision to ban march by Tory controlled Rushcliffe Borough Council

UNISON has commenced an appeal against Rushcliffe Borough Council, which has refused the union permission to use empty fields as a safe assembly area for a public march on 24 February against Nottinghamshire County Council budget cuts. The union has approval from the Police for the event, but is required to have a safe “point of assembly”.

Despite the land being vacant, and only used for overspill car parking for Trent Bridge cricket matches, the council claims that to allow permission might be seen as “supporting a political initiative”. The union believes the refusal to allow permission will be seen by local voters as politically motivated in itself.

Andy Belfield, UNISON East Midlands Regional Head of Local Government deplored the council decision:

“This should all be so straightforward. Conservatives in Nottinghamshire should be saying they will do whatever they can to avoid compulsory redundancies and they will make sure people have every chance to protest and have their say. Instead they are saying they intend to sack 1000 people they don’t have to, and they will try and ban people from peacefully protesting about it. It’s a sad day for the Tories in Notts.”

“Pensioners, services users, community groups and concerned local voters intend to take part in this march, and we need a safe point where people can assemble to reduce inconvenience to local residents and road users. The council must review its decision.”

The union has vowed that the planned march through West Bridgford will go ahead on 24 February 2011. The union will liaise with the police to identify an alternative point of assembly if the council will not budge. The union expects around 1,000 people to take part in the march, which will run from 11am to 12noon and end at County Hall.


Shocking video of UKUncut corporate tax protesters CS pepper-sprayed on Oxford Street, London [plus video of Nottingham demo].

In Nottingham on Sunday 30th January a further UKUncut demonstration was held against profiteering and the hypocrisy of governments that allow companies like Boots and Vodaphone to operate abroad and avoid tax when services are being cut – because the deficit must be reduced at all costs so we are being told time and time again.
Well if the cost is forests in England being sold off, libraries being closed, the NHS being maneouvered further towards privatisation, cuts to benefits and disability allowances going ahead at breakneck speed and an increase in homelessness due to the axing of vital services, then we don’t like it one bit. We are right to be angry. Watch video of Nottingham demo.

Meanwhile, on the demo in Oxford Street in London, after the Policy Exchange thinktank classed UKUncut as ‘street extremists’ who should be dealt with harshly and have their website taken down by the state for daring to suggest that something is wrong, it seems this policy idea was quickly put into practice, with protesters getting pepper sprayed in a manner that could not fail to be likened to the use of tear gas by police in Egypt in recent days.

UKUncut said: Before 15:00 outside Boots on Oxford Street a female activist tried to push a leaflet through the closed door of Boots explaining the details of Boots’ tax avoidance to the staff. A police officer then arrested the individual for “criminal damage”. Around 20 people tried to help the female being arrested and 10 were subsequently pepper sprayed. Three people have been taken to hospital.

Video link:

Link to pictures:

What next – tasers?

Full UK Uncut Press release:

Useful advice?
Or if you don’t fancy that, maybe this phone app for demos? Sukey Roar and Growl:

Video of Nottingham demo on 30th Jan 2011:

SHERWOOD FOREST IS OUR FOREST! – report from a well attended meeting in Nottingham on 27th Jan 2011. Plus PCS press release.Plea

Photo of save Sherwood Forest packed meeting on 27th January 2011Contact the campaign: Contact email:

Update: 3/1/2011Save Sherwood Forest website launched. Please link to the site if you are running a blog or website yourself. Thanks.

Here is a comprehesive report from a very well attended meeting held in Nottingham about the planned sell-off/privatisation of forestry land in England including Sherwood … come back to this page as we should have more specific contact information and hopefully an email group you can join. In the meantime you can contact Notts SOS in the usual way.

On 27th Jan 2011 over 70 people from all over the county packed into a meeting in Nottingham to express their concerns about the future of Sherwood Forest.

They were clear that the ownership of Sherwood Forest matters. It is something that is too vital and deeply rooted in the people of Nottinghamshire to be simply sold off by the Government. The meeting was convened by Notts Save Our Services and the Climate Alliance.

Sherwood Forest is now a complex web of woodland and forest which has a global identity as part of the legends of Robin Hood. A large part of the forest is held and operated by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the people.

Large tracts of forest land have been developed and managed by the Forestry Commission since 1919 following the ravages of the U-boat attacks during the first world war when forests were decimated to sustain war production. These forests freely open to the public and in public ownership are what the Government wants to sell. They have recently been developed as important free public recreational spaces and to be seen as vital environmental resources all at minimal public cost – around 30p/year for tax payers!

It was agreed that we cannot allow the our forest to be sold in haste on global markets in response to the ravages of the banking crisis. Sherwood Forest is at the core of our heritage, a wonderful amenity for all and an essential part of who we are now and also of our common future.

Paddy Tipping speaking as Vice President of the Ramblers made clear the importance of the access to land, access that was hard won over many years of struggle and mass action. We need to be very wary of Government promises, he said, and to be aware of the prospect of future amendments. We should not let go of our hard fought rights to roam or the necessary supporting resources.

Kaye Brennan set out the position of the Woodland Trust who have been working with and lobbying Government intensively over the past three months. They are clear that there should be no disposal of any land until there is a
binding commitment to complete the work to restore ancient woodlands. Like other charities, the Woodland Trust is not in a position to take over responsibility for managing large areas of forest she said.

People expressed concern at the reluctance of the Government to make any clear commitments so far and the majority were strongly against any sale of public land. The talk of the Big Society may be a smokescreen for selling off forests to the private sector.

Andrea Oates of the Nottinghamshire Save Our Services campaign placed the sale of Sherwood Forest in the context of the other Government cutbacks which are facing increasing resistance and also of the large number of jobs that are at risk in and around the forest. Andrea encouraged people to add their names to the campaign by 38 degrees which now has nearly 300,000 signatures, lobby their MPs about their opposition to the sell off and to
demonstrate against these proposals (see below).

Peter Robinson of the Climate Alliance stressed the importance of maintaining the forest to respond to the threat of climate change and of the capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide without the need for expensive and elaborate technology.

The meeting was encouraged to hear that some job cuts threatened in Sherwood Forest as part of Government cutbacks have been postponed in response to the public reaction so far – a clear indication of the power of the
public voice.

There was astonishment when we learned that the government is not going to bother to assess the health and environmental impacts of any disposal. We were reminded of the decimation of the Amazon rain forests that followed the collapse of confidence in the new fangled ‘hedge funds’ of ‘Long Term Capital Management’ in the 1990s which were unable to provide the promised financial security.

After a well-informed and passionate discussion it was agreed to organise a protest and rally in Sherwood Forest calling on people from all over the the county and neighbouring towns and cities to demonstrate to Government that we mean to fight to retain our forest. Similar actions are expected to take place across the country.

Many people at the meeting signed up to a ‘Save Sherwood Forest’ organising group which is hoping to launch the campaign in the near future. In the mean time for further information see:

Ian Hewitt, Health in Your Environment, Friday 28 January 2011

Report on Notts Trades Council site:

See the press release from the PCS below

Forestry body costs public less than a packet of crisps a year

27 January 2011

The public body responsible for managing the UK’s forests costs less than the price of a packet of crisps a year for each person in England, PCS says.

The value for money provided by the Forestry Commission, at less than 30p each every year, is highlighted as the government prepares to sell off forests with a ‘consultation’ being launched today.

The union, which represents 900 staff at the commission, says the government should keep the whole of the English public forests in public ownership and publicly run.

The Forestry Commission currently runs multipurpose forests – visited by 40 million people a year – providing economic, social and environmental benefits, as required by internationally recognised principles for good forest management.

Public ownership ensures the commission carries out a wide range of functions that the union does not believe can be provided by the private and voluntary sectors.

In 2009 the commission conducted a detailed study of the long-term role of public forests that concluded public ownership was essential in supporting the forestry estate.

Private sector owners would inevitably want to make a profit and would be likely to cut down swathes of forests, restrict public access and facilities, and would not provide the same level of support for environmental objectives.

With charities having to rely on fundraising, as well as support from taxpayer-funded grants, the union does not believe there are any savings to the exchequer from such a transfer.

In a recent YouGov poll for campaign group 38 Degrees, 84% of the public said they did not want their forests sold for private profit, and more than 200,000 people have signed a petition to oppose the sell-off.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our public forests are extremely important for the environment, for wildlife and to help solve problems such as climate change. The government is putting all this at risk with a dangerous ideological plan to sell them off to the highest bidder.

“While the voluntary sector does a lot of good work in our forests, we do not believe volunteers can replace experienced staff and forest managers.
“With the Forestry Commission providing such good value for money the alternative is clear, and the government should scrap its plans to allow big businesses to profit from our natural environment.