Action could hit courts, Jobcentre and tax office

June 1, 2011

1st June 2011

By Adam Kula, Swindon Advertiser

HUNDREDS of civil servants in Swindon could walk out on strike later this month.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union are said to be “fed up” with Government cuts and have begun a ballot for industrial action.

Not only are we on a pay freeze but they’re about to say we’ll have to make bigger contributions to our pensions, so that’ll be effectively a pay cut.”

– Andy Parsons

The PCS has members in Swindon’s Court Service, the research councils, the HM Revenue and Customs office in Farnsby Street, and the town’s Jobcentre.

It is not known exactly how many members the PCS has in the town, but the union said it is “several hundred”.

Andy Parsons, 48, is secretary of the PCS’ environmental research council branch, based in Swindon.

Mr Parsons, from Goddard Avenue, Old Town, said: “Not only are we on a pay freeze but they’re about to say we’ll have to make bigger contributions to our pensions, so that’ll be effectively a pay cut.

Read the rest of this entry »


Where will the unemployed, the under-employed and the workless find jobs?

June 24, 2010

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser in response to the ’emergency budget’.

The Coalition government’s emergency budget threatens to push the economy back into recession. Its impact on jobs and services will be drastic. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that up to 750,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector.

Consider this: the latest unemployment figure is 2.47 million. An estimated 1.07 million people are in part-time employment only because they have not been able to find full-time work. Another 2.32 million are without work and would like a job (though they do not technically qualify as unemployed). There are only 462,000 registered vacancies.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Review of Prescription charges supports the case for abolition of charges in all of the UK

June 17, 2010

Dowload a PDF here: prescrev

The Review of Prescription Charges which Professor Ian Gilmore was asked to carry out by the Labour government has finally been published.

http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_116366

His remit was to look at how free prescription charges might be progressively given to people with ‘long term conditions’. The government, under pressure because of the anomaly of English patients having to pay for prescriptions when they were being phased out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, extended exemptions to cancer payments and committed to extend them to patients with ‘long term conditions’, based on savings from the NHS drugs budget.

Read the rest of this entry »


The right to strike under threat – A European Taff Vale?

June 3, 2010

This is a Swindon TUC Briefing which you can download in PDF form from here: right to strike 0610

RMT President Alex Gordon

Mrs Justice Sharp’s judgement in Network Rail-v-RMT actually increases the scope of anti-union laws by invoking ‘proportionality’ (a remarkable new development in UK law imported from recent European Court of Justice judgements, allowing judges to assess effects of strike action) since Network Rail emphasised the disruption rail strikes will cause.

This will have massive repercussions for public sector workers opposing post-general election spending cuts and is a Trojan horse to outlaw by subterfuge effective strike action to defend key services. ”

The recent injunctions issued against strike action by UNITE and the RMT have grave implications for the whole trade union movement. They place a question mark over the right to strike. There were two main parts to these judgements: ‘irregularities’ in the balloting process and a new concept of ‘proportionality’ (which has no precedent in UK law) based on European Union law and judgements by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) relating to the Laval and Viking cases. Read the rest of this entry »


What is “Limited clinical benefit”?

March 30, 2010

The South West Strategic Health Authority document, “Progress report on plans forimproving quality, innovation, productivity and prevention ”, dated January 7th this year, makes estimates of how cuts in funding would be shared out in the South West. One of the potential areas of saving was listed as “reducing procedures of limited clinical benefit”. The document estimated a saving of £40-44 million. What were these procedures “of limited clinical benefit”? The document said this would involve “savings from decommissioning a standardised list of low priority procedures of limited clinical benefit without prior approval – i.e. minor skin procedures, liposuction, removal of tattoos, cosmetic orthodontics, minor ear procedures, varicose veins etc.”

Read the rest of this entry »


End the market in Health care

March 28, 2010

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Faced with a cut in funding of between £15-£20 billion by 2013-14, Strategic Health Authorities are drawing up plans for passing these cuts down to Primary Care Trusts and to individual trusts below that. The South West Strategic Health Authority’s document, “Progress report on plans for improving quality, innovation, productivity and prevention”(January 7th 2010), explains how it is aiming to implement these “efficiencies”.

Like all NHS structures they are struggling with the consequences of the government’s ‘health market’. Their aim, which is roughly akin to turning base metal into gold, is to carry out cuts in expenditure, improve safety, and improve service to the patients, all at the same time.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘We’ll put Council on the spot over cuts’

March 26, 2010

By Scott McPherson »

A PUBLIC service alliance could soon be set up in Swindon with trade unions and members of the public in one corner and Swindon Council in the other.

The new alliance, which was the outcome of a Swindon Trades Union Council conference last week, would see members from all main unions, including Unite and Unison, pair up with people in the town to question the council over cuts to vital services.

Read the rest of this entry »