The year started as it finished with a serious assault on council services with proposals to cuts hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of services. I met weekly with staff from the play service threatened with complete closure (as convenor and steward in children’s services). Supporting Play Service workers get support from unison (helping them organising meetings, get T shirts printed, resources for local protests, press coverage, a facebook campaign and link up with others like Save OUr Services to bring workers, children and parents together to protest against cuts.
In February with Anti Cuts Network I coordinated a benefit gig with Dogs Years and others bands at Star and Shadow to help raise funds for campaigning against council cuts. We made lots of dosh. Which was well needed.
I was central to bringing together unions (Unison, RMT, Unite and others) anti cuts campaigners (SOS,ACN, COR) and workers and service users to build a massive demonstration on 16 February throught Newcastle against the cuts. I was the main march coordinator (chief steward) we got 2000 people on the streets of Newcastle. The demo brought all campaigners together against library closures, play and youth closures, pools and attacks on respite centres and more together. But the cuts still went through. I got Unison support to help support fund this demonstration as well as funds from other unions and campaigns and fundraising.
Also in February I proposed motions for our AGM one on fighting the cuts in general and one specifically on arguing that Labour Councils should vote against the cuts supporting campaigners and councillors uniting around Councillor against the cuts. The motion on supporting councillors against our cuts was ruled out of order by Branch Sec and so it wasnt allowed on the agenda and members couldnt hear or read it. (Strangly it was then carried by a Unison national conference (despite opposition from Unison leadership see here wonder if we had put more pressure on labour councillors could our campaigning had more of an effect)
In March I supported Joan, Kate and other campaigners from Save Turkish Baths and Save Our Pool to organise a final protest against this tragic loss to the city.
In April I helped organise film showing of Ken Loach’s film Spirti of ’45 and in May marched with others workers and activist for Newcastle May Day and met with bedroom tax campaigners afterwards to plan more activity.
At the end of May met with Chief Exec of YHN ahead of lobby by bedroom tax campaigners to demand no victimisations, no evictions and re-designation of homes. 25 of us attended lobby of board and some concessions were promised (since then in December we have heard they are redisignating some two bedroom flats to one bedroom – a victory for common sense, but still more to do)
June – though i wasnt a delegate to Unison Local Government proud of my comrades who argued and won Unison to the common sense approach of calling on councillors to oppose the cuts and supporting those who do so. (CATC are meeting with Unison in January this year!)
July proposed two motions to Unison conference:
a) Supporting coaches from Newcastle to TUC NHS demo (this was supported)
b) Proposing we start now to talk to members about a campaign over pay (set up a working group and find out what action members are prepared to take) – again supported
August – organised fundraising benefit to help support coaches for NHS demo raised over £100 and had a good night.
September – was central to coordinating 3 coaches to NHS with full support from Unison branch and alongside Eddie and Paul we steward the 3 coaches and ensured Unison was represented in the North East on the Manchester demonstration.
Also in September linked up with workers who occupied Wallsend Memorial Hall and visited almost daily during occupation to demand the centre wasnt sold off and was kept for the community (which has happened)
Celebrated with metro workers there victory in 5% per year pay rise for the next 4 years and other concessions against the privatised cleaning and metro service (well done RMT comrades)
In October worked with Newcastle NUT deputy branch secretary to get supporters including Uni students to NUT strike day rallly in Durham. A fantastic turnout.
In November and December supported University strikes at Newcastle University and Nortumbria including attending picket lines
Also in November helped coordinate with Newcastle Free Education Network bring Israeli refuser Noam Gur to Newcastle (she spoked to nearly 100 people about refusing to serve in the occupied terrorities and her imprisonment for doing so)
As the year began at the end of the year have met with staff from Children’s Services facing cuts in the year ahead, and proposed motions to the branch to fight Sure Start cuts and raised with Director of WCL concerns around lack of information regarding consultation (We have now recieved the information and revised timetable)
Throughout the year I have attended monthly branch committees and shopstewards committee challenging the cuts, the council and senior management and ensuring every challenge and oppostion is raised and members views are represented as far as possible. Including arguing for more vigirous campaign over pay and improving our democracy and constitution.
If you elect me you can expect more activity and more challenge