Monday, 30 May 2011

800,000 'not given help with social care

Hundreds of thousands of older people in England who need social care are not getting any support from the state or private sector, campaigners say.
Age UK says 800,000 people are excluded from the system - and the figure is set to top one million within four years.
It said budgets had hardly risen in recent years even before the squeeze, despite the ageing population.
The charity renewed its call for an overhaul of the system, something ministers are looking at.
Funding rise
Social care in England is means-tested, which means those with savings of over £23,250 are excluded.
But councils have also been making it more difficult for those who do meet the income threshold to get care, by tightening the eligibility criteria.
Six years ago, half of councils provided support to people with moderate needs, but that figure has now dropped to 18%.
It means only 1.2 million are getting formal care either at home or in a care home - although some of these are being forced to pay for the services themselves anyway, as they exceed the income cap.
The report - based on previously published data by government bodies and independent researchers - pointed out while the NHS had received significant budget rises in recent years, social care increases had stalled.
Once inflation is taken into account, funding has only been rising by 0.1% a year since 2004 - equivalent to £43m. By comparison, the NHS budget rose by £25bn.
Mounting problems
Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: "The figures we have uncovered beggar belief. Care and support in England has reached breaking point, putting older people at risk and their families under intolerable strain."
The charity has been calling for means-testing to be scrapped so that a universal system could be created, guaranteeing everyone a certain level of support if needed.
The government has set up a review of the system and is expected to publish plans for reform later this year.
Other parts of the UK are also looking at how they provide social care amid mounting problems.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "The government recognises the urgent need to reform the social care system - an ageing population and rising expectations make the current system completely unsustainable."
He added the plans to be put forward later this year would "put in place a lasting and fair settlement for social care".

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Dundee National Express bus drivers strike

19 May 2011

On Thursday 19 May bus workers in Dundee showed that they would challenge National Express’ attempts to extend the working week from 40 to 43 hours without an increase in wages, cut sick pay for the first three days off and make overtime compulsory. Using the cab radio system, drivers responded to the call to bring the buses in and talks were promised. However management then suspended the branch officers of the UNITE union and the strike was on again that afternoon. Workers are back at work pending negotiations but as one striker re-called, such action had not been heard of since the 1960’s.  We know that we are entering a period when workers - in unions and without - will have to organise.

No Cuts-Full Stop! supports this action to defend conditions and pledges its solidarity to those threatened with disciplinary action for fighting back. Up to the time of writing this account, no report has appeared on the union's website. Worse still, a union full timer - Colin Coupar, ex-Labour councillor - has described the action as ‘unlawful’ and that the drivers could expect ‘no sympathy’ from the public. What Coupar and his well heeled union could do is simple: instead of shovelling millions over to a Labour party that backs the cuts agenda, they could be backing their members and lining up with them to win the support of the people for the battles which lie ahead for all workers. Coupar and the Labour party have chosen their sides, with the multinationals and the cuts - we have chosen ours - with the working class.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

New unemployment crisis? Same old story.

On Monday 16 April, commenting on a new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) into unemployment, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber stated: ‘There is a stark jobs divide across the country with parts of Scotland and the Tees Valley experiencing a far sharper downturn than parts of the South East’. At first glance this looks like geographical inequality but a closer examination shows that this is pure and simple economic inequality.

TUC analysis has shown that in March this year there were 40 candidates for every job vacancy in the West Dunbartonshire region. 3786 people were registered unemployed and there were 94 vacancies. This is a pattern also repeated in North and East Ayrshire with an overwhelmingly disproportionate unemployed to vacancies ratio. West Dunbartonshire covers Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven. These three areas have a large working class population in an area that used to be the centre of Britain’s industry. This is a recurring theme which is being projected on wider scale. Across Britain as a whole the number of unemployed persons per vacancy has risen from 1.5 in 2005 to 6 in 2011.

Once again it is the majority of the people who suffer at the hands of an elite minority. While David Cameron tells us that ‘We are all in this together’, working class people are forced to compete with one another in order to find employment. This comes at a time when the ConDem coalition is launching an attack on those who are in receipt of Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA). The working class now finds itself in a situation where their unemployment benefit is under threat of reduction whilst simultaneously they fight in a job market against up to 40 of their peers. This is a stark and prominent example of the inhumane nature of capitalism. The late Jimmy Reid, leader of the Upper Clyde Shipworkers, in his 1972 inaugural speech as rector of Glasgow University said:

         ‘A rat race is for rats. We're not rats. We're human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you’.

The current simultaneous attack on employment and unemployment benefit has resulted in soaring competition for jobs. This constitutes a ‘rat-race’ since the capitalist system treats the workers as rodents who can be thrown out of employment and then forced to fight for survival against their fellow workers.

However the TUC analysis does not conclude that the working class are being forced into a ‘rat-race’. Instead Brendan Barber claims that ‘new unemployment blackspots have emerged. There is a stark jobs divide’. Yes there is a stark divide, between the ruling class and the working class, and it is getting wider. The TUC, whilst highlighting this inequality, is currently engaged in negotiating ‘voluntary redundancies’ to give the illusion of control. The ‘blackspots’ and ‘stark jobs divide’ will continue until the trade unions decide to actually take a principled stand and say ‘We are not rats, we are human beings!’. A principled stand would involve challenging the anti-trade union laws and refusing to implement savage government cuts. This assault on working class communities will continue North and South of the border. The trade unions can only take independent and effective action if they separate themselves from the control of the reactionary Labour party. Labour does not offer change but a continuation of swingeing cuts as was demonstrated by the last Labour administration. The answer lies not in a change of party but in a change of system.

No cuts! Full Stop!

Garry O’Ci├ínain. (FRFI)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Standing up for the working class! Long live John MacLean!


On Sunday 8 May, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Glasgow Defence Campaign members joined the annual John MacLean march from Eastwood Cemetry to Pollokshaws, organised by the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement.

John MacLean was the most outstanding revolutionary working-class leader on the Clydeside during the crucial struggles underway around the time of the First World War. MacLean's commitment to revolutionary socialism, anti-imperialist solidarity and working class action still inspire today.

FRFI activists addressed the rally held at the end of the march. Dominic O'Hara of the Glasgow Defence Campaign spoke of the recent battles FRFI supporters had fought with Strathclyde police to defend democratic rights. Helen McCourt, of the Save the Accord centre campaign in Dalmarnock also spoke. These represent the concrete struggles of the future, struggles for which the example of MacLean still shines bright.

Long live the memory of John MacLean! 
The working class won't pay for the crisis of the rich!

Friday, 13 May 2011

East End Carers Call For End To Media Silence!


A protest was held yesterday at Glasgow City Chambers to oppose the closure of the Accord centre in Dalmarnock. East End Carers, who have set up the Save the Accord Centre campaign, successfully disrupted an executive council committee meeting, where Labour councillor Matt Kerr and others responsible for the proposed closure were present, and held a three hour long picket, with chants, placards, banners and leaflets helping to publicize their struggle.

The campaigners were joined by supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI), the Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) and the International Socialist Group (ISG) who helped call for an end to the media silence. The Scottish media have refused to report on the campaign and any other story which sheds negative publicity on the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The masks were to symbolise the media's silence.

We say Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Shame!

Save the Accord Centre Now!

For more details about the Save The Accord Centre campaign visit 'Save The Accord' on Facebook and see Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! article 'Campaign to save Glasgow Care centre confronts Labour council'.